MP votes for caravan tax

SCARBOROUGH’S MP says imposing VAT on static caravans will “level the playing field” in the tourism industry – despite fears over jobs.

Robert Goodwill voted against a motion calling for the Government to rethink proposals to hit static caravan sales with 20 per cent VAT.

The caravan tax, which was announced in last month’s budget, has been met with concern on the East Coast.

Paul Benjamin, owner of Jacobs Mount caravan park in Stepney Road, said: “It’s going to affect everyone in this industry hard.

“It’s going to affect sales at time when its hard enough to get people to buy vans and part with their money.

“There will be a huge knock-on effect on the manufacturing industry too. It’s hard times at the moment, and it’s just not helping. It will be a tough few years until the addition of VAT is absorbed and becomes the norm.”

James Brown, of Brown’s Caravan Park, in Cayton Bay, was equally concerned. He said: “The VAT will hit the industry hard. Holiday homes mainly seem to bought by people who have worked hard all their lives and managed to put some savings aside.

“Now, once you add £6 or £6,000 on top, it starts to push the price out of that affordable bracket, at a time when people are watching their money.

“This will affect demand and in turn supply, and could send the industry into a place where we really don’t want to be.”

Scarborough accountant Mark Knowlson, from Lloyd Dowson Chartered Accountants, which represents caravan parks along the East Coast, said: “It would be a blow to both the industry and the local area as caravan and holiday parks are a major part of the economy right along the Yorkshire coast from Whitby down to Hull.

“Robert Goodwill’s choice of vote is surprising given the rural location and background of many holiday park owners, who are likely to have supported him.”

However, MP Robert Goodwill has defended the move. He said: “I know people in the industry are concerned about the impact it will have but the fact is if you rent a mobile home for a week’s holiday you pay VAT, and if you stay in a hotel you pay VAT on that too. In some ways we are re-levelling the playing field.

“I do appreciate it will increase the cost of a new mobile home and the industry will have to look at how to react to this.

“There is a consultation period at the moment so it may be that the government will be able to look again at some aspects of this.”

Speaking to the Evening News last month, shadow chancellor Ed Balls blasted the move, saying: “This is an own goal the government shouldn’t be making. This is a very important industry for East Yorkshire. It will be a hard hit on manufacturers and a devastating blow on the mobile home industry.”