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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Scotland urgently needs reduction in tourism VAT – Richard Lochhead MSP

In yesterday’s Scottish Parliament debate on support for business and the economy, Richard Lochhead MSP (SNP, Moray), who was Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment until 2016, thanked Derek Mackay (SNP, Renfrewshire North & West), the Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Constitution, for being the hospitality industries “white knight” on business rates, but then highlighted the urgency of a “cut in tourism VAT and other measures” to support hotels.

Richard Lochhead (SNP, Moray)

I, too, thank the cabinet secretary for being the hospitality industry’s white knight and greatly helping my constituency. With regard to other sectors, does he agree that assessors should fast-track the appeals process for businesses facing increases or hardship, and will he and his colleagues in the Scottish Government also contact the UK Government to ensure that it, too, is taking steps?

Yesterday,The Caterer magazine reported that roughly 2,000 hotel companies in the UK face insolvency due to Brexit, and we urgently need a cut in tourism VAT and other measures to be introduced.

Derek Mackay (SNP, Renfrewshire North & West)

Mr Lochhead is right that the assessors and appeals panels should consider their workload very carefully. I cannot direct them in that respect, but I certainly encourage them to consider their workload, handle the issue sensitively and look at what support can be given to businesses as the panels manage the appeals that they receive. This is another opportunity to remind businesses that believe that they have the wrong valuations to appeal and ensure that they have the correct ones, in what is essentially an independent process. However, I believe the Government has taken what actions it can to ensure that we have a competitive rates regime in our country.

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