UK Government rejects push by Welsh MPs for a cut in the tourism VAT rate

By David Williamson,

The UK Government has rejected a push by Welsh MPs to lower the tourism VAT rate.

Last year the cross-party Welsh Affairs committee urged the Government to “review” its policy, “with the ultimate aim of reducing the current 20% rate”.

However, the Government has batted away the proposal in its official response to the report, claiming that it would have to either increase borrowing or raise taxes to meet the cost.

It states: “The Treasury estimates that a cut in VAT to 5% for accommodation and attractions would have a cost of up to £2.7bn to the Exchequer. Given the current fiscal climate, these costs would have to be met either from increasing other taxes or from increased borrowing.

“This Government’s priority is to tackle the record budget deficit in a decisive but fair way, to restore confidence in our economy and support the economic recovery…

“However, Treasury ministers have been working closely with the industry to increase both inbound and domestic tourism. The Government does recognise the importance of the tourism and hospitality industry, and is providing additional support to these businesses in a number of ways.”

The Cut Tourism VAT campaign claimed in November that a reduction from 20% to 5% would “create almost 6,000 jobs in Wales, and boost the Welsh economy by over £165m”.

In the committee’s report, fears were expressed that the “refusal of the UK Government to reduce the VAT rate for the tourism industry, unlike most other EU states, could be having a detrimental effect on the Welsh tourism industry.”

The Welsh MPs also called for UK Trade & Investment to have a greater focus on the nation, pointing out that some of the poorest households in Northern Europe were found in West Wales and the Valleys.

They argued UKTI had a “crucial role in helping address geographical wealth inequalities” and pointed to the example of German Trade and Investment to reduce disparities, adding: “UKTI should be mandated by the UK Government to perform a similar function.”

In response, the Government noted that “London has local authorities that rank among the most deprived in the UK, such as Newham, Hackney and Tower Hamlets”. West Wales and the Valleys, it added, have “a significant competitive advantage when attracting capital investment versus most of the rest of the UK and Western Europe” because it is designated as an assisted area where “the maximum proportion of a project cost that can be met by the state is higher”.

The MPs called for a “dedicated trade promotion agency” that could work either as part of the Welsh Government or as a private sector body to drive inward investment projects into Wales.

The UK Government states: “It is for the Welsh Government to determine their structures or ways of working however UKTI would be happy to share its experience is requested.”

A further demand by the MPs is that on UKTI ensures a “regional spread of businesses are included on overseas trade delegations and that Welsh companies are given opportunity to participate”.

The Government responded: “UKTI is surprised at suggestions that Welsh companies are not sufficiently encouraged to participate. It does however, welcome the challenge, and will redouble efforts to ensure that participation is truly representative of the UK.”

It adds that the “Wales Office will inform Welsh MPs and Assembly Members about forthcoming trade delegations so that business can be informed” and urges the Welsh Government to “do the same”.

The committee wants to see the “Wales Office and Welsh Government seek greater opportunities for joint overseas trade delegations”.

The UK Government states it is “fully prepared to engage with the Welsh Government and be involved in joint trade missions, where appropriate.”

The committee also called for the UK Embassy in Argentina to “have a specific strategic goal to help promote the Welsh language in Patagonia and foster relations between the region and Wales.”

In response, the UK Government stated: “The British Embassy works closely with the British Council on promoting both the Welsh language and culture in Argentina. Currently we have a specific focus on celebrating the 150 anniversary of Welsh settlement in Patagonia.”

The MPs were alarmed that Wales has the “third smallest number of international visitors” of any UK region and blamed a “a lack of awareness internationally about Wales’s strengths as a holiday destination”.

They warned of a lack of a “coherent brand for the overseas market” and called for a “strong and clear narrative about the country’s historic and modern aspects and its attractions for tourists”.

The MPs wanted Visit Britain and the Welsh Government’s Visit Wales to have a strategy in place by next month to promote Wales as “a first choice destination for international visitors to the UK.”

In its response, the UK Government states: “From September a member of Visit Wales has been embedded in VisitBritain’s London office to better represent Wales. Visit Britain and Visit Wales are also exploring opportunities to work together on commissioning research, running familiarisation trips for international media and trade, marketing promotions on territory and working with commercial partners.”

Sourced by Wales Online

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50 new jobs at Bridgend aerospace firm TBD Owen Holland

Library image of Qatar Airways  plane

The firm supplies equipment to firms including Qatar Airways

A firm which provides support and equipment to the aerospace and defence sectors is expanding with the creation of 50 new jobs.

TBD (Owen Holland) Ltd, in Bridgend, had considered moving part of its operation to Abu Dhabi to be closer to its main customer base.

But the Welsh government awarded a £700,000 grant to ensure the £2m expansion went ahead in Bridgend.

The firm, based at Waterton Industrial Estate, currently employs 90 people.

The company’s founder Steve Meredith said the firm expected overseas sales to rise 30% in the next two years, having attracted new clients including Saudi Arabian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Kuwait Airways and Fly Dubai.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said she was pleased the company would continue to grow in Wales, creating new well-paid jobs and economic benefits to the region.

Sourced by BBC News Wales


Abta sets out value of leisure aviation to government

Abta sets out value of leisure aviation to governmentBy Phil Davies,

The importance of leisure aviation to the UK economy is to be outlined by Abta in evidence to the government’s Airports Commission tomorrow (Tuesday).

A study by the Centre for Economics Business Research found that the sector contributed £14.1 billion of ‘Gross Value Added’ in 2010, equivalent to 1.1% of GDP, greater than the contribution of the utilities, accountancy or advertising industries.

The Abta-commissioned report says that that it accounted for 1.2% of total UK employment, equivalent to 289,000 full time jobs in 2010.

The impact on job creation of leisure aviation goes beyond direct employment with a further 246,000 employed by suppliers to the industry.

Researchers analysed 446 routes from 2012 and found that on 428 of these, more than half of passengers were travelling for leisure purposes, with half of the routes showing a leisure passenger share exceeding 90%.

This underlines that many routes essential to the business health of the UK would not be viable without the contribution of leisure travellers.

Additionally, leisure passengers play a key role in supporting the viability of routes for business travellers to high growth economies, such as Brazil, India and the UAE.

Leisure traveller numbers to countries with high growth economies grew by more than 96.6% between 2002-2012. This was equivalent to an increase of 4.2 million leisure passengers, alongside an increase in business passengers of 660,000.

Leisure aviation also makes a significant contribution to regional economies with the economic output in Wales, the North East and Northern Ireland accounting for the highest proportions of regional Gross Value Added contributions of between 1.4 and 1.5%.

In terms of absolute impact, leisure aviation provides the largest contribution to the South East, London and North West economies.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer is due to present the findings to an Airports Commission hearing on demand and connectivity.

He will also provide the assoication’s views on what the government needs to take into consideration to develop a long-term aviation strategy for the UK.

He said: “This report makes an unarguable case for the importance of leisure aviation to the UK economy, as a wealth and job creator without which many air routes essential to the business health of the UK would simply not exist.

“The government must recognise the key role leisure aviation plays in supporting the economy throughout the UK and ensure that support for the sector is built in to any future aviation strategy.”

Sourced by Travel Weekly


Airport in line to bring 400 new jobs

UntitledPembrey Airport could be set to welcome hundreds of new jobs thanks to plans to build a new cargo facility at the site.

Winston Thomas, owner of the airport, said a Belgian company was keen to create a new dedicated air cargo facility at the airport, which would create up to 400 new jobs in a variety of areas.

But Mr Thomas said work to extend the airport’s runway needed to be finished before the company could move in — estimated at a cost of around £800,000.He has now asked the Welsh Government to support the scheme, which he believes could give the area a huge financial boost.

Mr Thomas said: “FSH Cargo Management are very interested and have submitted a detailed proposal.”It’s a shame that we are not getting the support we need to create these jobs.

“Something is definitely needed in this area since the demise of the steel industry. 400 jobs of various skills is a huge injection of jobs into this area.

“It would make a massive difference to the community. It’s something we definitely need.”

He said rather than looking to attract new business, the company already had customers all over west Wales, which it hopes would use the new facility.

He said: “It’s a question of serving their existing customers. At the moment all the freight companies are on the east coast.”

And while FSH would bring some of its existing staff from Belgium, Mr Thomas said up to 90 per cent would be employed from around Pembrey.

But he said the concrete surface of the airport’s runway needed to be finished before the facility could be built.

“Pembrey Airport would employ local companies to do this work,” he said.

“We’ve got quotations already and they said they could complete it within two months.”

General manager of FSH Cargo, Sylvester Henry, said the company had hoped to build a facility at RAF Brawdy airport in Tenby, but the plans fell through after a private investor backed out.

“With the correct funding or backing, Pembrey Airport could see a similar development to that of Brawdy, servicing the UK south west as an alternative to Cardiff and Birmingham, in addition to providing a Middle East or Asia to North America transit gateway,” he said.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said it had met with Mr Thomas to discuss his proposals for Pembrey Airport, and asked him to submit a detailed written proposal for consideration.
Sourced by Llanelli Star for This is South Wales

Additional notes from Wales Air Forum

Although we are keen to see every airport or airfield throughout Wales prosper we are very cautious on this development and question the benefits of basing such a facility at Pembrey when there is greater potential for it to be located at the Enterprise Zone at Cardiff Airport or MoD St Athan.

The Welsh Government has also recently purchased Cardiff Airport and due to invest in it’s future as the national airport for Wales.  Without a detailed proposal from Pembrey Airport it can only be considered as an assumption that 400 jobs will be created.  There would also be a requirement for customs and security facilities to process the cargo.

This is not the first mention of the project as it was mentioned back in June 2012 during news reports that Pembrey Airport had ambitious plans to expand and turn the airport into a centre for aircraft maintenance with the creation of 600 jobs.   In the article it was suggested that the first phase of the scheme would cost an estimated £4.5m.

However even though it was suggested that work could begin late 2012 there has been no further information released on the project.


EasyJet to recruit 330 pilots

EasyJet to recruit 330 pilotsBy Phil Davies
EasyJet is creating 330 new full-time jobs for pilots this year.The recruitment drive is part of a new career structure to provide cadet and first officer opportunities for pilots.

New permanent first officer positions will be offered across all 11 of easyJet’s UK bases – Gatwick, Southend, Luton, Stansted, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and Belfast.

The budget carrier has also reshaped and formalised its career structure. This will provide cadets with the opportunity to gain experience and flying hours followed by a new entrant contract for experienced first officers which in turn leads to a long-term career and the opportunity to become a captain.

Pay scales range from a starting ‘total reward package’ of £40,000 for a cadet to £54,000 for a first officer and up to as much as £146,000 for a captain.

The priority in filling the vacancies will be given to pilots employed by easyJet’s aviation training partners, CTC and Parc, who are already gaining experience as pilots with the airline.

There are more than 1,850 pilots permanently employed by easyJet with an additional 450 contracted through CTC and Parc.

The airline expects to be creating new permanent roles in both 2013 and 2014 and said it will also consider applications from pilots with appropriate experience.

Head of flight operations Captain Brian Tyrrell, said: “We offer a clear career path for pilots with the potential to move from first officer to captain more quickly than at other airlines.

“The skills and professionalism of our pilots is one of easyJet’s key strengths and we want to work with them and their representatives.”

The first step towards joining easyJet is usually be through the airline’s two training partners. They gain experience of the airline’s operations and build up their flying hours with more work in the summer than the winter. This also provides easyJet with a level of flexibility due to the seasonal nature of the industry.

Once they have flown for over 1,250 hours with easyJet and completed two years, pilots then join as permanent employees at first officer rank.

After flying for a further two years and reaching 2,500 hours, pilots then become a senior first officer and aim to become captains.

“With easyJet’s continued planned growth the time taken from first officer to captain is likely to be quicker than at other airlines,” a spokesman said.

“Beyond that there are further opportunities for pilots to develop their career whether that is into a training or management role.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly