Edinburgh West MP calls for tax-free airport shopping to stay

Christine Jardine MP is calling on the UK Government not to scrap tax- free shopping at airports on January 1 and bring forward its promised Aviation Recovery Package.

Monday, 12th October 2020, 7:19 am
Pic Lisa Ferguson/JPI Media. The loss of the VAT exemption will cost Edinburgh Airport millions.

The Edinburgh West MP, who is also the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson, described the move as “another slap in the face” for the airport and airline industry in the current crisis on January 1 when the EU transition period comes to an end.

Although duty-free sales of alcohol and tobacco will continue, other goods such as clothing and electrical goods will no longer be tax-free.

In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and an motion laid before parliament, the MP warns the move could have serious implications not just for the airports but for the already suffering tourism and hospitality sector in the UK.

A study examining the economic impact says the loss of VAT airside concession will cost the British economy £2.1 billion in GDP.

At Edinburgh Airport alone, the loss of the VAT exemption for airside sales will result in more than £7.6 million in lost revenue and threaten hundreds more jobs. There are further risks of sales through fashion and specialist shops.

Ms Jardine said: “This change will have a serious impact with the loss of tax-free sales estimated to cost around £7.6m a year to Edinburgh airport alone and retailers estimate around £10 billion to the UK economy.

“I’ve had representations form a number of organisations including airports and retailers pointing out the jobs that could be at risk and the value of these sales to the exchequer.

“Our tourist organisations also say that these shopping facilities are a major attraction for visitors to this country and will leave us as the only European country not offering tax-free retail to visitors form the USA, China and across the globe.

“I had hoped to raise this with the Chancellor personally but he declined the meeting.

“However, I shall continue to press and urge all MPs to support an aviation package which will include the continuation of this service together with other measures which will both support our airline industry and encourage a shift to more sustainable methods.”