Head of British Chambers of Commerce believes ‘door is ajar’ for Government to scrap tourist tax after she lobbied a key adviser to Rishi Sunak
- Shevaun Haviland agrees ‘100%’ with our campaign to reverse the levy
- Business figures want return of VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors
- They say net gains to the economy from this would outweigh lost tax revenue
Support: British Chambers of Commerce boss Shevaun Haviland
The head of Britain’s top business group believes ‘the door is ajar’ for the Government to scrap the tourist tax after she lobbied a key adviser to Rishi Sunak.
Shevaun Haviland, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said she agreed ‘100 per cent’ with the Mail’s campaign to reverse the levy and had spoken to the Prime Minister’s aide Franck Petitgas over the issue.
More than 320 prominent business figures have called for a return of VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors.
They say net gains to the economy from this would outweigh lost tax revenue. Haviland said of the Mail’s campaign: ‘We 100 per cent agree with you on that.’
The London Chamber of Commerce, part of the BCC’s regional network of groups, has been calling for the tax to be scrapped since last year.
Haviland said: ‘I brought it up again a couple of weeks ago with the PM’s business adviser Franck when I saw him at an event so it’s on their list.
‘It seems an easy win for them and it’s not clear to me as yet why they’re not going down that path. He really, really listens, he’s very engaged and he’s obviously talked to a lot of stakeholders. I do think that they are thinking about it – the door is ajar.’
Her comments add to the sense a re-think may be going on at the top of the Government. Last week The Mail on Sunday revealed Treasury officials requested new data on the tax’s economic impact.
Earlier this year, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said a U-turn would be too expensive, costing £2billion a year. But the impact on businesses hit by lost custom appeared not to have been considered. That seems to have been acknowledged by officials seeking the new assessment.
A source said while it was known retailers would be hit, ‘impact on the broader economy had not been properly factored in’. Opponents say a U-turn would bring in a net gain of £350m. A series of business leaders have backed the Mail’s campaign.
In April, Burberry chairman Gerry Murphy confronted Sunak at a business summit, calling the tax a ‘spectacular own goal’.