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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Australian WW2 Spitfire pilot added to Welsh church roll of honour

Flying Officer Neville Fleming

Flying Officer Neville Fleming lost control of the fighter plane on 6 February 1943

A 19-year-old Australian Spitfire pilot who died when his aircraft crashed in a south Wales field during World War Two has been added to a roll of remembrance near the site.

Flying Officer Neville Fleming lost control of the fighter plane on 6 February 1943 near Pendoylan, Cowbridge, while on a training mission.

It touched the ground and spun out of control, bursting into flames.

His name has been added to the roll at St Cadoc’s Church in Pendoylan.

The young pilot, from Red Hill, Brisbane, Queensland, had taken off from an airfield at nearby Llandow.

‘Hero’

The incident went down in local folklore, with tales told about “the field where the Spitfire crashed”.

But much more about the tragedy has been discovered in the last year. Local people found that Flying Officer Fleming was buried at a war graves cemetery in Llantwit Major.

They also contacted his family in Australia and his sister sent a package of photographs and documents, including her brother’s cap badge and insignia.

Flying Officer Fleming’s name was included at St Cadoc’s Church and his sacrifice was marked during at the annual remembrance service.

A Church in Wales spokeswoman said: “Neville Fleming, who died in the parish of Pendoylan 70 years ago, is now remembered as a hero by his family, friends and fellow parishioners.”

Sourced by BBC News Wales


£2.73 a ride: What Cardiff airport shuttle bus is costing Welsh taxpayers

The Cardiff Airport shuttle bus from Cardiff bus stationNew figures reveal service linking Cardiff city centre with the city’s airport is subsidised to the tune of £1,284 a day by Welsh taxpayers

The Cardiff Airport shuttle bus from Cardiff bus station

The Cardiff Airport express coach service launched last month by the Welsh Government is costing taxpayers £2.73 per passenger to subsidise, it can be revealed.

The Welsh Government – which bought Cardiff Airport for £52m in March – is subsidising the route at a cost of £1,284 per day or £466,000 a year.

In its first month of operation, the T9 service, which runs every 20 minutes from the city centre to airport between 4.10am and 11.40pm, carried 13,039 passengers.

This equates to an average 7.7 passengers riding on each of the 61 daily journeys – and a per passenger subsidy of £2.73.

The Conservatives said it was “unacceptable” that a “paltry seven passengers” were travelling on each coach at “great expense to the taxpayer” when cuts had left residents in rural parts of the region with no bus service at all.

First Cymru won the contract to operate the service, initially on a six-month trial, after its tender proposed the £1,284 daily subsidy. Six bids in total were made, with one bus operator asking for a £5,873 daily subsidy – which would have equated to £2.1m a year.

As a result of the T9, Cardiff Bus scrapped its existing X91 service which ran from the city centre to Llantwit Major via the airport.

South Wales Central AM Andrew Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said: “Instead of working with the existing transport links and delivering a service that benefits both airport users and residents, we now have a hugely expensive route which runs near empty for most of the day. Meanwhile residents have lost the vital X91 service that pre-dated the express link.”

“A paltry seven passengers on average are travelling on each bus at great expense to the taxpayer. Meanwhile Welsh Government cuts to transport support, via the Bus Service Operators Grant, have left residents in rural parts of the region with no bus service at all. This is simply unacceptable.

“We all agree that excellent links to the airport are essential to the airport’s success, but if the route can’t generate passenger interest after all of the publicity it has had how can it be viable in the long term?”

Liberal Democrat business spokeswoman Eluned Parrott welcomed the route’s introduction, but said running it every 20 minutes was “over the top” and reducing it to half-hourly at peak time and hourly off-peak would save money.

“The Welsh Labour Government need to justify every pound of public cash it spends and spending over £460,000 per year on this fairly straightforward route seems very frivolous to me,” she said.

“In time I want to see this public subsidy either reduce substantially or hopefully reach a point where the service becomes self-funding.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson: “It is still early days for this service but we are encouraged by the initial take-up during the first month and will continue to monitor its usage closely. This service was introduced to improve connectivity between the city centre and the airport in response to public demand.”

Sourced from Walesonline


Wales Air Forum News 100,000 views!

The Wales Air Forum news site has hit the 100,000 views mark!

This is amazing when you take into consideration it is a free publication that receives no financial backing and is run by volunteers.

Our audience is increasing day by day and were very much looking forward to reaching 200,000 views.

Did you know that you can have our articles sent directly to your inbox? Click subscribe which located to the right of our main page walesairforum.wordpress.com

Did you also know that you are able to comment on any of our articles? This provides us with feedback and opinions which can be very helpful.

Don’t forget to share our articles with your friends, colleagues and relatives and especially don’t forget to visit the Wales Air Forum main website which is the main reason why our news website exists.

Visit our main website www.walesairforum.co.uk


Wales Air Forum wish you all a Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all our followers and we hope that you had a great Christmas.

After a brief break the Wales Air Forum team are now raring to go and get back into the swing of things.

2012 was a very successful year for Wales Air Forum increasing our coverage, building relationships and evolving into a credible group for the Welsh aviation industry.

We intend to make 2013 a better year by building more relationships, increasing coverage further and growing the resources available on our website.

What are our aims in 2013?

  • To make Wales Air Forum and official voluntary/not for profit organisation
  • Make our website more user friendly
  • Add further passenger information, guides & tips
  • Improve our utilisation of social networking sites
  • Become more pro-active when responding to Welsh aviation news stories
  • Further increase our number of news sources
  • Create a Welsh aviation directory
  • Grow our relationship with the travel trade
  • Work closer with other likeminded aviation groups

Wales Air Forum News 70,000 views!

The Wales Air Forum news site has hit the 70,000 views mark!

This is amazing when you take into consideration it is a free publication that receives no financial backing and is run by volunteers.

Our audience is increasing day by day and were very much looking forward to reaching 100,000 views.

Did you know that you can have our articles sent directly to your inbox? Click subscribe which located to the right of our main page walesairforum.wordpress.com

Did you also know that you are able to comment on any of our articles? This provides us with feedback and opinions which can be very helpful.

Don’t forget to share our articles with your friends, colleagues and relatives and especially don’t forget to visit the Wales Air Forum main website which is the main reason why our news website exists.

Visit our main website www.walesairforum.co.uk


Welsh MP’s no-show at important Air Passenger Duty debate at House of Commons

On Thursday 1st November a debate on air passenger duty was held in the House of Commons however it is understood that no MP’s representing Welsh constituencies actually attended the debate.

The Wales Air Forum fears that the no-show by the MP’s may have a detrimental impact on the Welsh aviation industry as other MP’s had the opportunity the promote their local airfields as the debate was aired live on television.

While many Scottish MP’s debated hard in opposition to the current high levels of APD Aberdeen, Glasgow & Edinburgh had several mentions and other MP’s raised the profile of airfields such as Manston in Kent and Newquay in Cornwall.

Air Passenger Duty is a contentious issue and one that will never go away as it can add significant cost to a flight. When introduced in 1994 air passenger duty was originally just £5 per person for short-haul flights and £10 elsewhere.  However in 2012 a flight to Continental Europe for those travelling in economy class would cost £13 per person, Florida £65 per person, India £81 per person and Australia £92 per person.  If you were travelling in business or club class it would cost double the amounts above.

The British Chambers of Commerce have found that air passenger duty could cost the economy a staggering £10bn in lost growth and up to 250,000 fewer jobs over the next 20 years.

The Wales Air Forum are concerned that MP’s representing Welsh constituencies do not take the issue of air passenger duty seriously.  The current high levels of APD are already deterring passengers from flying as it becomes unaffordable to have more than holiday per year which can lead to job losses.

It is believed that approximately 25,000 people are employed by the aerospace sector in Wales and Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) in Wales accounts for almost 25% of the UK total split between approximately 150 aerospace companies.  If the UK Government continues to encourage people not to fly then there will be less need for aircraft and therefore all these companies and jobs to support this industry.

Cardiff Aviation Ltd is a new Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) company that has set up at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan which is expected to create several hundred further jobs within the aerospace sector.

The Wales Air Forum is calling for all MP’s representing Welsh constituencies especially those that have airfields and major aerospace companies such as General Electric, Airbus, British Airways, Nordam etc to wake up and join the fight against the current high levels of APD.  This is the precise reason we joined the ‘A Fair Tax on Flying’ campaign.