Pleasureland boss Norman Wallis says the government’s VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism industry “doesn’t go far enough”.
Pleasureland reopens this Saturday for the first time since closure at the end of the 2019 season in October.
But Wallis says the government could be doing more to help businesses in the industry.
In a press statement Wallis said: “We have been lobbying government for years to redress the issue of unrecoverable VAT within our industry. It is impossible to add VAT to rides, our whole business model is built on pricing that is easy to understand and manage. Adding 20% to a £1, £2, £3 or £4 ride just doesn’t work for customers or for us. It is too clumsy to manage, but, more than that, there is a huge consumer resistance that can’t be overcome. In retail people are used to one kind of pricing, in the amusements world, they are used to a structure that is based on round £ units. It is also traditionally how families manage their entertainment budgets – they put aside rides’ spend for the visit. So our industry has been penalised heavily with VAT we have never been able to recover.
“The Government VAT suspension shows it has recognised there is an issue, but this VAT cut doesn’t go far enough. It is a suspension until March of next year it should be extended until at least the following March 2022. For businesses like mine that is too little too late. We, and others like us, have already lost half the year. We normally open at Easter, then weekends and school holidays, finishing the season in November. The suspension is until March – most of that we can’t take advantage of because, yet again we will be out of season. And still, we can’t recover the VAT on rides, whether it’s 20% or 5%.
“The Government may have caught on to the fact that there is an issue to be addressed, but it hasn’t really listened; this isn’t particularly helpful Ministers must begin speaking to the businesses and not just academics with no real life experience.
“Our hope is that the Government will listen, understand and go further to provide help to businesses like mine that have fallen through the cracks as far as financial help goes. Businesses should pay taxes, we have no issue with that, but when the tax singles out an industry to put it at a significant disadvantage, then offers hot air and no real help so this needs to be looked at. So, some news, yes, but a change that will help us re-start our businesses with more confidence – no.”