Cross party call

MSPs call for reversal of tax free shopping ban

Royal Mile shop record

Overseas visitors ‘should be encouraged to shop’

MSPs are demanding the UK government reverses its decision to end tax-free shopping for tourists.

A decision to scrap the VAT Retail Export Scheme from January is expected to deliver a further blow to hard-pressed high streets.

Last month the SRC wrote to the UK and Scottish governments and last week raised the matter directly with Ministers from the Scotland Office and Scottish Government.

A motion has been lodged with the Holyrood parliament by Labour’s Daniel Johnson calling for cross-party unity on the issue.

It calls on parliament to express its alarm at the decision to end the scheme.

It notes that visitors to Edinburgh and Scotland from international destinations make a valuable contribution to the economy.

The motion says the UK would be the only country in Europe not to operate tax-free shopping if the scheme ends and acknowledges that the Scottish Retail Consortium, Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Essential Edinburgh business improvement district and others have voiced their concerns.

Parliament is urged to call on UK Ministers to reconsider or postpone the ending of this tax relief until a full impact assessment is undertaken and discussions are held with the industry on possible alternative solutions.

It has been supported by Alex Neil, Alex Rowley, James Kelly, Anas Sarwar, Kenneth Gibson, Iain Gray, Richard Lyle, David Torrance, Sarah Boyack, Bill Kidd, Stuart McMillan, Colin Smyth.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has already pledged government backing to the call for a reversal of the decision.

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