Monday, 20 October 2014

Coastal communities: the Cut Tourism VAT campaign and how "the Clacton by-election has focused attention on the economic problems of seaside towns"

The future of the UK's resorts is not clear:
Futures Forum: Looking to the future of the South West seaside town

What is clear, though, is the importance of tourism to these areas:
Futures Forum: Is the economy picking up in East Devon? ... Or, the importance of tourism to the region's economy...

And now, following the importance to the government of keeping out UKIP following the by-election in the seaside resort of Clacton
Futures Forum: UKIP and the greenbelt

... politicians are revisiting the subject of VAT on the tourist industry:
Futures Forum: Looking to the future of the South West seaside town ... part two

But, as pointed out by the East Devon Alliance, is seems that East Devon's politicians are out of step with their colleagues:
More than 80 MPs (including south-west Tories) back cut in tourism VAT | East Devon Alliance

Indeed, the District Council seems to be almost suicidal in its determination to forge ahead regardless:


October 20, 2014

If the things that are currently happening in Exmouth (selling the seafront to the highest bidders, knocking down Elizabeth Hall), Budleigh (the Longboat, inappropriate development), Sidmouth (coastal erosion and job losses) and Seaton (strange statues in the wrong olaces and more retirement homes) it seems a good possibility!

One thought on “Coastal communities: will they change their voting patterns in the next election?”

Paul says:
October 20, 2014 at 11:31 am

Many of these seem to be the result of discussions held in secret by the secretive Asset Management Forum whose meetings do not have agendas or minutes and which, because it is a “Forum” and not a “committee”, is apparently not subject to local government transparency regulations.

Many of us wonder why all these things need to be discussed and decided in secret – just what is the need for this, what is being hidden from us, and what are the real reasons that these decisions are being made? After all, if it was all straightforward, and all the decisions were really the best ones, then there wouldn’t be a need to make them in secret, would there?

Coastal communities: will they change their voting patterns in the next election? | East Devon Alliance

Here are the two articles from the Western Morning News:

South West MPs back call for tourism VAT cuts

By Western Morning News | Posted: October 20, 2014

Westcountry MPs have thrown their support behind a national campaign to reduce tourism VAT rates in the hope of boosting growth in the region’s coastal towns and villages.

Conservatives Geoffrey Cox, of West Devon and Torridge, and Ian Liddell-Grainger, of Bridgwater and West Somerset, have joined more than 80 other MPs and thousands of businesses from across the country by adding their voices to the Cut Tourism VAT campaign.

Both were keen to stress the role that coastal communities could play in Britain’s ongoing economic recovery as they called on the Government to cut tourist accommodation and attraction VAT rates from 20% to 5%.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of Britain’s seaside towns and the economic case for cutting VAT to help these places is as clear as day,” said Mr Cox “Local businesses need a leg up and the chancellor must ensure that coastal communities benefits of our long term economic plan as well as London has. We need to not be hamstrung by anti-competitive tax policies like tourism VAT. There’s now clear proof of a £4bn windfall created by the extra job creation and investment cutting VAT would generate.”

The focus of the Cut Tourism VAT campaign is to bring the UK’s VAT rates in line with competitor destinations within the European Union.

Most EU Member States already apply a reduced VAT rate to tourism services, and supporters say British tourism businesses are disadvantaged as a result.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said he wanted the Chancellor to consider a VAT cut in his autumn statement. “Part of the government’s long-term economic plan should be reducing VAT for accommodation and attractions, as research using the Treasury’s very own economic model has proven,” he said. “We all want to create jobs, stimulate growth and generate a fiscal surplus – all things which cutting tourism VAT would do.”

Local tourism leaders have welcomed the news of additional political support for the VAT campaign. “Somerset has always been in the forefront of these fights, and we value the strong support of our MPs,” said chairman of Visit Somerset, Bob Smart. “We have been campaigning for years to get VAT on tourism scrapped, and we think we’ve built up a pretty good case. The whole line of government policy is that everyone ought to pay less tax, but in fact the government tries to rely on regressive taxes like VAT, a sales tax which hits poor people hardest. If Ian can make some progress on this, we’ll all take our hats off to him. He is addressing our annual tourism conference in November, and I hope that there’ll be some good news to report then.”

Devon MP Geoffrey Cox and MP for Somerset, Ian Liddell-Grainger, are supporting the Cut Tourism VAT campaign | Western Morning News

Will economic reality in resorts bring a political shift in voting?

By Western Morning News | Posted: October 20, 2014

As many holiday resorts continue to struggle economically, Peter Gripaios suggests the Westcountry could be the location for another protest vote against the main political parties.

The Clacton by-election has focused attention on the economic problems of seaside towns and the disaffection of their residents with the Westminster political consensus.

These economic problems have been evident since the early 1960s when, of course, the advent of cheap air travel gave huge scope for British residents to go abroad for their holidays.

The weather was better there, as were the facilities and often the services, the prices were cheaper and the experience somewhat more exotic.

Little has changed since and, for resorts all around the UK, 50 years of decline have left their mark with lack of investment and consequently a whole host of rundown facilities.

The problem has been exacerbated by the fact that nearly all the considerable resources allocated to urban renewal since the 1970s have gone to the former industrial towns and cities.

Only recently, have seaside resorts moved up the list of priority recipients and, given the scale of the problems that they face and a period of continued austerity in public spending, it is going to be a tough job to revitalise any of them.

Indeed, things may get worse before they get better for many of the resorts have become dependent on old people less confident about going abroad than the young. They are a segment of the market which may not be fully replaced over time.

Though some parts of Cornwall have seen a resurgence in tourism in the last decade, many resorts in the South West are very much in the economic doldrums.

The classic case is Torbay and here we have clear evidence of the extent of the problem because, being a unitary authority area, there are plenty of available statistics to illustrate it.

The problem does not entirely appear to be an absence of jobs, for although the latest survey-based rate of unemployment for Torbay is above that for the South West, it is below the national rate. Rather, the problem seems to be more about the quality of those jobs.

Only 31% of Torbay employment is in Managerial, Professional and Technical occupations compared with 45% nationally and not surprisingly, therefore, pay rates for full-time workers reflect this being 26% higher nationally than in the local area. Moreover, more than 44% of Torbay jobs are part-time, a much higher figure than for Britain as a whole (32%).

Other evidence of the depressed local economy is that over 19% of the population is in receipt of benefits compared to just 13% in Britain and 11% in the whole of the South West and that the value of output per head is only 61.4% of the UK figure. The latter figure is barely any different to that for Cornwall, which because it is classified as a Euro region, qualifies for the highest level of EU regional support.

Sadly, the relative decline of Torbay is more than a story of a decline of traditional tourism for it isn’t just tourism jobs which have gone. Indeed, not so long ago the Bay had significant employment in high technology industry, the main employers being Nortel and then its successor Bookham Technologies in Paignton and AstraZeneca in Brixham. These have all ceased operations.

Such high tech jobs are, of course, the sort which Torbay will have to attract and develop in the future if things are going to improve and they are the same ones that everywhere else would like to get not just in the UK but internationally.

The Local Authority has done its best by the provision of employment sites at locations such as White Rock, by the institution of business support programmes and by the development of a sector strategy but resources are severely constrained and competition is fierce. Moreover, quality jobs are hardly likely to be attracted to an area where only 26% of the work force is qualified to NVQ4 level or above, a figure 9 percentage points below the national one.

In any event, the era of large scale foreign direct investment in manufacturing seems to be over, while quality jobs in financial and business services are increasingly being concentrated in capital and major regional cities.

Torbay like so many other coastal resorts and old industrial areas is in a dogfight for the scraps.

It too may be fertile ground for a protest vote even if there are no easy answers.

Will economic reality in resorts bring a political shift in voting? | Western Morning News

See also:
About the campaign Cut Tourism VAT
Cutting tourism VAT would 'add £4 BILLION' to economy | Western Daily Press
Tory MPs urge George Osborne to cut VAT on hotels and attractions - FT.com

Opinion: Our seaside towns and the challenge of UKIP
Clacton by-election: What an incredible journey Ukip has been on – and now we stand on the brink of making history - Comment - Voices - The Independent

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