Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Caravan Tax May Leave Parks Static

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Caravan Tax May Leave Parks Static

Article excerpt

HAPPY campers are no longer smiling after the Government announced a 20% tax on static caravans MIKE BLACKBURN looked at the implications. CARAVANNING was once described by Labour MP Barbara Follett as "a perfect reflection of the British psyche.

Is there a pastime that embodies Britishness more? So it comes as no surprise that the Government's plans to slap a new 20% tax on all new static caravans from October has sparked widespread anger.

The industry is worth billions to the UK economy and operators fear this success story is under threat because of the VAT.

The National Caravan Council says the tax "targets one of the last great manufacturing success stories and does nothing to encourage holidaying at home".

The Government wants to change the tax rules to bring static caravans into line with touring caravans.

Prime Minister David Cameron said of the proposed tax: "I don't think it's fair that a mobile caravan pays VAT but a stationary caravan does not."

A vote on the tax change in the House of Commons last week was won by the Government - but only with the second biggest rebellion by MPs seen this Parliament - and the consultation into the tax rise continues.

Chris and Helen Brown run the award-winning Drovers Way Holiday Caravan Park, at Elton, near Stockton, set in 10 acres of peaceful countryside - but fear the VAT could have a major impact on their fledgling business.

"This threatens the entire industry - it affects every caravan park in the country," said Chris.

"The Government estimates it will raise pounds 40m a year from this VAT - it's going to cost them more than that when you take into account the number of job losses." Chris and Helen are pig farmers and developed the caravan park two years ago to be able to sustain a workable income to enable their family to remain on the farm.

"We are trying to diversify - we put our life savings into this," Helen added. "Everything we had has been put into that park."

The couple are angry the Government is happy to tax a static holiday home but, when it comes to a bricks-and-mortar second home, no VAT is imposed. …

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