Tax plea

Forbes presses case for cut in VAT to help firms

Kate Forbes at Barclays
Kate Forbes: we are doing what we can (pic: Terry Murden)

SNP deputy firs minister Kate Forbes has called for a cut in the rate of VAT for the tourism and hospitality sectors as an opposition spokesman says her government has made life tougher by imposing higher taxes of its own.
The SNP manifesto, launched earlier this week, reaffirmed the party’s position in support of a lower rate of VAT which is supported by a number of industry bodies.
Ms Forbes said: “In the last few years, hospitality and tourism businesses have been battered by the Covid pandemic and they are still being battered by Brexit – it’s time that Westminster gave these businesses a break by finally cutting VAT.
“The Scottish Government is doing what it can to support businesses, including removing rates for 100,000 small businesses with the small business bonus, bringing in the ‘New Deal’ for business, and encouraging people to support their neighbourhood enterprises with the ‘Shop Local’ campaign.”

However, Scottish Conservative shadow secretary for business, economic growth and tourism Murdo Fraser said: “The brass neck of the SNP is breathtaking. They have the nerve to pose as a friend of Scottish business when they are crippling firms across the country by failing to pass on the 75% rates relief available to businesses south of the border.

“The funding to deliver this support to Scottish businesses has been made available by the UK Chancellor and yet successive SNP finance secretaries – Kate Forbes, John Swinney and Shona Robison – have opted to withhold it from Scottish firms.

“Kate Forbes, without a hint of self-awareness, is calling on the UK Government to deliver a VAT cut to help the very tourist and hospitality businesses that she and the SNP have left floundering. It’s shameless.

“Hardworking Scots, business groups, the British Medical Association and the British Dental Association will be equally dismayed to hear Kate Forbes claim that the tax gap between Scotland and the rest of the UK is not yet too high.

“Under the SNP anyone earning over £28,850 is paying more tax in Scotland than they would south of the border, and these organisations have warned that it’s already damaging economic growth and our ability to recruit and retain key workers including NHS doctors and dentists.

“For someone who claims to be economically savvy, Kate Forbes is either wilfully blind or in denial.”

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