Published: May 2, 2012
Anger grows in Burnham area over government's caravan tax plans

Holiday bosses in the Burnham-On-Sea area fear the local tourist economy could be dealt a serious blow by government plans to begin charging VAT at 20 per cent on caravans.

Holiday park operators say jobs could be under threat if the proposals to add VAT to the price of static caravans go ahead after initially being set out in the budget.

Steve Atkinson from Home Farm Holiday Park told "These proposals would have a hugely negative impact on the area - hitting sales of static caravans, forcing us to consider cutting jobs and reducing the number of holidaymakers in the Burnham area. The plans are utterly ridiculous."

And Alan House, of Holiday Resort Unity in Brean, said: "If this happens, we could be looking at 12 to 15 job losses here alone."

"The whole local economy is at risk: the bloke who comes in and does a repair, the shop down the road, the tourist attraction. If people are put off buying the homes then our investment and development plans will be hit too and it becomes a vicious circle."

Bob Smart, chairman of Somerset Tourism Association, added: "The British tourism industry is hanging by a thread, and the Somerset tourism industry particularly so. While there may not be much financial support available, the last thing we all need is another financial blow. Will 'caravangate' become another 'pastygate'? The principle is the same."

Burnham's MP Tessa Munt told this week she opposes the plans. "I have visited George Osborne to express my concerns to him after receiving lots of feedback during my latest surgery in Brean."

"I don't agree with the proposals at all. I understand why the Chancellor wants to tax caravans, but this will hurt tourism and leisure in the area."

Static caravans are traditionally a way for people who cannot afford to buy a holiday cottage or apartment to get a place by the seaside, but a 20 per cent increase on caravans retailing at around £25,000 or £30,000 will add thousands to the overall asking price.

The National Caravan Council is lobbying hard for a change of heart by the Government, and while an adjournment debate on the issue was narrowly lost in April, the Government has promised more consultation.

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