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Cumbrian businesses say 'tourist tax' will scare off visitors

A proposal to allow local authorities across England the freedom to impose tourist taxes will harm the tourist industry in Cumbria, it has been claimed.

Farlam Hall photo
A charge could deter visitors from visiting places like Farlam Hall Hotel

The move has been suggested by MPs to legally guarantee councils independence from Whitehall with such tax-raising powers in a draft code published by an influential Commons committee.

And it also suggested that councils should be directly handed a share of income tax to bring them in line with powers granted to the Scottish government and proposed for Wales.

Tourist taxes could include the sort of charges levied by many foreign cities on hotel rooms and other services.

However, Helen Quinion, one of the owners of the Farlam Hall Hotel in Brampton, said it could deter visitors – particularly if neighbouring areas did not impose such a charge.

She added: “If it’s not compulsory and some areas do and some don’t they will go to the area where there is no extra charge. In the current economic climate people are looking to save every penny.

“In this industry there has been talk for years of a bed tax. It will deter people from going away for a night.”

Councillor Stewart Young, deputy leader of Cumbria County Council, said that the tourism industry did not need any extra charges on top of their normal costs. He said: “The last thing we need in the Lake District is a tourist tax. I have heard of it in other countries. At the moment we are heading for a triple dip recession and businesses are struggling as it is.”

The report has been published by the political and constitutional reform committee and the suggested code would allow a range of revenue-raising powers to give local councils a better ability to shape their services to local needs.

Directing up to two-thirds of national income tax take to councils, in place of centrally-administered grants, would also give residents a clearer idea of where their money was being spent, it said.

Income tax rates would not change and it would still be collected as at present and distributed using the same formula of local needs under the proposed system.

The Labour chairman of the committee, Graham Allen, said it was a blueprint for a ‘radical new settlement’ that would free town halls from around 1,300 Whitehall-set duties.

He added: “The Government’s commitment to localism is laudable, and the city deals are a step in the right direction, but there is still much more we can do to set local government free.

“In the long term, I would like to see English local government retain a sizeable part of the income tax take for England, and have the ability to implement other revenue-raising schemes, with local consent.

“This tax transparency would allow the ordinary voter to see what their taxes were spent on, allowing them better to hold all levels of government to account.

“These measures could revitalise local democracy and kickstart the local economic growth that we so desperately need.”

Have your say

People already pay a premium for everything in the lakes!!

Posted by Tony Lopez on 30 January 2013 at 14:29

@John - agreed - 50p or a £ might not make much difference, but on top of that everything else is taxed to the hilt - tax, tax and more tax. How much more tax can we take ????????

Posted by S Hawking on 30 January 2013 at 11:20

View all 6 comments on this article

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