Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Decision That Has Thrown 1,000 Jobs into Jeopardy

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Decision That Has Thrown 1,000 Jobs into Jeopardy

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Wearmouth Regional Affairs Reporter

THE decision to devolve Air Passenger Duty would be a "slap in the face for North East business" and throw 1,000 jobs into jeopardy, it is claimed.

Newcastle Airport chief executive David Laws has told of fears for the region's economy after the Smith Report recommended that Scotland be allowed to set its own level.

It would mean Scotland could slash, or even abolish, the payment and suck passengers to airports north of the border.

Mr Laws warned the consequences could be devastating, placing 1,000 jobs at risk and draining PS400m from the region's economic output over 10 years.

News of the proposal by the Smith Commission comes as a huge blow after months of campaigning by regional figures to ensure a level playing field on APD.

There are now calls for Chancellor George Osborne to somehow limit the potential damage in his Autumn Statement next week.

Mr Laws said: "We are extremely concerned about these proposals. We have undertaken intensive lobbying, including letters to the Prime Minister, Chancellor and other senior politicians. We have also submitted a full representation to the Smith Commission. This hasn't been published due to its commercial sensitivity but may be in the future.

"Our submission predicts 1,000 fewer jobs across the North East by 2025, significant impact on passenger numbers, PS400m in Gross Value Added lost between 2015 and 2025, and additional journey time costs of PS265m between 2015 and 2025."

"We are now seeking a signal from the Chancellor in next week's Autumn Statement that the Government is going to do something to address any future distortions.

"The Prime Minister said on September 19 that the devolution settlement had to be fair also to the people of the rest of the UK.

"We now want him to honour this commitment. The only way to achieve this is for any reductions in Scotland to be matched in the rest of the UK, or for this damaging duty to be reformed in such a way that distortions are avoided. …

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