A CAUTIOUS welcome has been given to news that the government has had a change of heart over plans to impose a 20 percent tax on the sale of static caravans.
The victory follows a campaign spearheaded by The Galloway Gazette, which involved politicians and holiday park owners. Now a five percent levy will be imposed and the tax won’t come into force until next April, not this October as previously announced.
However, holiday park owners warned that the fine print is yet to be determined.
Duncan McCready, of D&M Leisure said he and the Swalwell Group of Auchenlarie, are still progressing with plans to take a sign-written caravan to the Houses of Parliament until the detail is decided and offers a secure compromise for the holiday industry.
He said: “I’m very happy they’ve taken on board our concerns but can’t fully cheer yet. Tax will still be paid on the fixtures and fittings of the vans but then also a five percent tax on the finished product.
“I think it’s likely they agreed to slash the rate because they knew they’d lose a vote if it went that far in parliament.”
Mr McCready added that two-thirds of the opposing MPs who rallied against the plans this month were Tories and Lib Dems. He added: “We do appreciate they took the time to work with us and listen but it’s still a step too far for this struggling economy.”
Mid Galloway councillor Graham Nicol said: “I’m delighted the government has reduced the tax from 20 percent to five. It would appear common sense has prevailed here, although it might have been better to remove it altogether.”
A petition launched by MP Russell Brown and local holiday park owners was distributed among caravan parks, local shops and visitor attractions across the region, as well as online earlier this month.
Mr Brown said: “This U-turn is a humiliating climbdown from the Tory-led government that is lurching from one crisis to the next. Its Budget has descended into an utter shambles and this chaos is no way to run a country. It shows how totally out of touch they are that they ever tried to force these unworkable tax hikes onto local people.”
SNP MSP Dr Aileen McLeod added: “This news will be met with a huge sigh of relief from businesses across Dumfries and Galloway. This idea was always ill-considered and I am delighted the UK government has seen sense, heeded the industry’s concerns, and scaled it back dramatically. It should never have seen the light of day.”