The travel industry has lashed out over plans to allow local authorities to impose higher business rates.
In his pre-Budget report, Chancellor Alistair Darling revealed plans for the additional tax,which will help fund local regeneration and projects such as Crossrail in London, which was approved by the Prime Minister last week.
Agents and tour operators are likely to be forced to contribute to any proposed schemes despite the Treasury’s attempts to protect smaller businesses with a rateable value of less than £50,000. If firms are to fund more than one-third of a project, they will get a vote on how the money is spent.
Concern has been raised that agencies will be forced to payout despite having no input on what the regeneration plans involve.
Travel Trust Association managing director Todd Carpenter said businesses should have a say in all projects funded by the levy.
He said: “This is great in theory but the businesses don’t have any say in the projects and they are often of no benefit to them. Unless the projects are relevant to the business, this doesn’t make sense for us. It’s just one more burden on the small business.”
Sunvil Holidays managing director Noel Josephides said: “If there’s no consultation it’s yet another stealth tax.”
The Forum of Private Business campaigns manager Matt Hardman said the move would lead to more tax on small firms. “In a year’s time when local authorities need more money, will the threshold come down?”
An ABTA spokesman added: “Any increase in business rates is clearly detrimental to ABTA members, especially as many are small and medium sized enterprises. We will be writing to the Treasury expressing our concerns on this matter.”
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