A SOUTH Tyneside caravan park boss today slammed plans to introduce a holiday tax, claiming that jobs would be at risk.
Chancellor George Osborne revealed plans to put 20 per cent VAT on the sale of static caravans in last month’s Budget.
From October 1, VAT will be extended to static holiday caravans to bring them into line with mobile caravans.
But Nigel Thompson, who owns Sandhaven Caravan Park on South Shields seafront, said it was a “devastating blow” to the industry.
And he said the VAT plan – like the controversial pasty tax, which will add 20 per cent to the cost of pies, pasties and sausage rolls, if served warm – proved how out of touch this Government was.
Mr Thompson, whose company, Northumbrian Leisure, bought the borough site in 2008, said: “It is a massive hike.
“On a £40,000 caravan, that is an extra £8,000. Even on a £10,000 holiday home, that is another £2,000 to find.
“We have people on this site who have worked hard and saved up for a holiday home, and this increase will hit them hard.
“It could put people off, which could have a devastating impact on our industry.” As well as Sandhaven, Northumbrian Leisure has another three parks across North East England.
There are 83 holiday homes at its South Tyneside site, which was given a £1.2m revamp last June – a refurbishment which he said would never have happened if the VAT rise had come in earlier.
And today he warned that jobs may be lost.
The company employs 20 staff across its four sites, with a couple of wardens in South Shields.
He said: “The risk of job losses is not just us, but the whole industry. If this 20 per cent rise comes in as planned, it will put a lot of new owners off.”
Research from the British Homes And Holiday Parks Association has shown that 53,000 jobs are supported by the industry, often in rural areas.
The ‘holiday tax’ is predicted to lead to one job lost for every 15 holiday park pitches left vacant, many in rural areas.
Today Iain Malcolm, the Labour leader of South Tyneside Council, also condemned the VAT move.
He said: “This is another example of this Government being out of touch with the hard-working people of this country, people who have saved up to buy a static caravan so they can enjoy a bit of relaxation in their leisure time.
“Why don’t they try to recover the estimated £76bn in uncollected taxes owed by British companies, instead of targeting honest working people?”
n Voice of South Tyneside ... Page 6