Conservative leader Boris Johnson has been tasked with leading an economic revolution in the United Kingdom by scrapping EU-era VAT laws and regulations, which continue to impede the country’s small companies.
Conservative Brexiteer Jayne Adye, on the other hand, says the government should take a risk rather than “plodding along” with the “status quo” as dictated by the EU.
During a time when Britain’s continuing relationship with the EU is increasingly being scrutinised, Ms Adye, director of Get Britain Out, spoke out.
However, Brexit Minister Lord David Frost has made it plain that he increasingly wants the United Kingdom to move away from conformity with EU red tape, especially in the area of VAT, which applies to a broad variety of products and services. The Northern Ireland Protocol, under which the territory essentially stays part of the EU single market, is at the forefront of the discussion.
“The Government has already accepted cutting VAT is a good idea for encouraging investment in industry and consumer spending,” Ms Adye added.
“Just last year, to encourage people to go out and spend money, the Government temporarily cut VAT in the hospitality sector from 20 percent down to five percent.”
Despite the scheme’s effectiveness in providing a timely boost to the economy during the crisis, the government maintained that the reductions were only temporary.
“Ever since the 2016 EU Referendum and before then, Get Britain Out and other pro-Brexit campaigns have produced report after report identifying areas of EU regulation from which the UK should free itself.” Ms Adye said.
“However, despite this plethora of information and experience at their disposal, those in Whitehall have shown no interest in actually implementing meaningful change.”
According to Ms Adye, VAT compliance costs an average business four percent of their revenue.
“This is a significant amount for smaller businesses desperately trying to stay afloat in the current economic climate – yet the Government continues to sit on its hands,” she said.
“It seems content with a system which as recently as 2017, was spread across 42 Acts of Parliament and 132 statutory instruments, with many more no doubt added throughout the pandemic.”
“How is such a complicated system sustainable?”
To “refill the Treasury’s coffers after the pandemic,” said Ms Adye, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s reluctance to abolish VAT was likely motivated by this.
However, she argued that, at a time when interest rates are at all-time lows, the emphasis should be on reducing the cost of living and assisting the UK in achieving optimal development as it navigated its way around the globe, in keeping with Mr Johnson’s Global Britain vision.
“In the tax year 2019-2020 (the most recent year available), the UK had a VAT Gap of £12.8billion (the difference between the actual amount of VAT collected and the theoretical tax liability), equating to 8.4 percent of potential VAT revenue” Ms Adye added.
“Is this really a hole in our budget which is not worth working to eliminate?”
“Instead of choosing to simplify our tax system, we continue to plod along, happy to stay aligned to what became the norm under EU regulations.”
“Too often the Government has ignored chances to break away from the EU’s status quo.”
“Is this just about not wanting to rock the boat – or just being too lazy to make changes and come up with our own ideas?” she wondered.
“The tax system in the United Kingdom needs to be reformed, and the Government should either abolish VAT or bring in VAT reform if we are to get the best from Brexit.”