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First Base is the equivalent of an 'Editorial'. It is the opportunity for S & A to provide comment and provoke discussion on topical issues relating to leisure and tourism. This will be provided each month and we would welcome your feedback on the matters raised.

First Base 12: Level playing fields are non-existent

Date: 20/5/2004

This week has seen the Government announce a 500m compensation fund to re-build the farming community in the period post foot and mouth.

At the same time they announced a 66m package of compensation for those who have lost their jobs following the reconfiguration of CORUS (the former British Steel). Tourism operators throughout Britain were anxiously holding their collective breath in anticipation of a major injection of real support for the tourism industry. The announcement soon followed ... a derisory 12m.
The effect of the FM crisis on the tourism industry in Wales has been devastating. We estimate that from the start of the outbreak until the end of April some 12,000 jobs have been lost in the industry with weekly financial losses in May running at 20m. The prospects are not good. For many businesses bookings for the main season are virtually non-existent. More will go to the wall.

The scant crumbs from the table by way of business rate relief and sensitive VAT and tax officers are not able to make any real difference.

The geography of the FM outbreaks in farming are extraordinarily localised. The only industry to suffer on a more widespread basis has been tourism. So where's the justice, where's the fair play and where is the level playing field?

Perhaps more significantly where are the sympathetic VAT men?

Now read on... The following item Carries a health warning ...

The cold wind of bureaucracy is currently blowing right through S & A. Let it be a warning to all other small businesses. This is a true story based on bitter personal experience ...

Over the past three years we have been working for the Department for International Development in Slovakia and Poland. Both projects involved DfID in being the agent for handling funds for recipient overseas governments. As a result, we were advised that the contract was zero rated for VAT. Then ...

Earlier this year along comes the VAT man from the local office who takes a different interpretation and promptly slaps a VAT assessment plus non-disclosure penalties and interest going back three years. At this moment in time, and pending an appeal, S & A stand to face a non-recoverable bill in excess of 20,000.

This is all because two departments of this hapless Government interpret the regulations differently. If anyone has had a similar experience please let us know by e-mail to

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First base archive

  • First Base 12: Level playing fields are non-existent
    This week has seen the Government announce a 500m compensation fund to re-build the... more

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  • 24 items

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