East Devon MP Hugo Swire has met with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to discuss East Devon’s priorities for the upcoming Budget.
Sir Hugo Swire met with the Rt. Hon Philip Hammond MP in the House of Commons to channel in views from his constituents, particularly those who participated in his pre-budget survey. The information was received by the Chancellor himself and treasury officials and will now be fed into the Office of Budget Responsibility, which will take into account Sir Hugo’s concerns when drawing up the budget.
Amongst the issues raised were:
- Health Funding in Devon
- Air Passenger Duty
- Transport Links
- Cutting VAT on tourism
- Defence spending
- Issues surrounding furnished holiday lettings
Following the meeting, Sir Hugo said: “I am most grateful to the all those in East Devon who took part in my online Budget 2017 survey. I have had a really positive meeting with the Chancellor who was aware of, and understands, many of the issues that are confronting us in East Devon and the rest of the South West.”
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said: “I was delighted to meet with Sir Hugo on 30th October to talk about some of the issues in East Devon. We had a very helpful and wide ranging discussion, and Sir Hugo is doing a great job representing his constituents.”
Sir Hugo added: “Of course, the nation’s finances are still difficult and the Chancellor is right to be prudent during our negotiations as we leave the EU. I am, however, confident that he will seek to act upon the suggestions as soon as it is practical to do so.
The Submissions in more detail
Furnished Holiday Letting Rules
The rules on Furnished Holiday Lettings (FHL) were changed by the previous Chancellor. These should be revisited as the South West relies largely on the tourist industry and has had a detrimental effect on tourism and holiday lettings in the South West.
VAT on restoration of listed buildings
Sir Hugo believes that there should be a standard 5% rate of VAT levied on the restoration of listed buildings. A lowering of the rate would help clear the backlog in repairs to historic buildings that have largely resulted in the changes to the VAT rate.
VAT & Tourism
According to the Cut Tourism VAT campaign, a reduction of tourism VAT to 5% would contribute an extra £4.6bn in extra revenue to the Treasury and create 121,000 jobs over 10 years. Devon’s economy is powered by, among other things, vast levels of tourism, especially during the summer months. The UK is one of four EU countries not to make use of the possibility of a 5% VAT on tourism. If the UK wants to be a competitive tourist destination post-Brexit, it should at least be in line with other low-tax EU countries on tourism.
Air Passenger Duty (APD)
Sir Hugo would like incentives in APD to be targeted at airlines with cleaner and more environmentally compliant fleets. This would particularly help Exeter Airport, which is adding new routes to Europe each year. The closest airports to Exeter are Newquay (86miles) and Bristol (65 miles). Airlines that are wholly domiciled in the UK (such as FlyBe) are also hit twice with take-off and landing fees, especially for domestic flights.
Although the Government has committed to 2% of GDP on Defence Spending, there have been reports that this has been ‘topped up’ by war pensions, which has artificially inflated the actual figure in order to meet the NATO target.
Health Funding in East Devon
There are still disparities in health funding across the UK and within the North, East and West Devon CCG. With an ageing population in East Devon, more funding should be directed and targeted into areas that, although may not have acute health issues, do have issues surrounding long-term care for the elderly.
Although the re-balancing of the Northern economy is important to the rest of the UK, transport infrastructure to and from the South West has been chronically underfunded. In 2014, the Dawlish line was swept away into the sea. David Cameron set up the Peninsula Rail Task Force to look at improving rail links to the South West. The equivalent of 3 miles worth of spending on HS2 would mitigate the resilience issues at Dawlish on the main line.