Budget 2017: Abta ‘very disappointed’ over lack of action on APD

Budget 2017: Abta ‘very disappointed’ over lack of action on APD

Lack of action in the spring budget on Air Passenger Duty has been labelled as “very disappointing” by Abta.

And £300 million to help mitigate business rate hikes was condemned as a “drop in the ocean” by the British Hospitality Association.

Abta public affairs director, Alan Wardle, said: “The chancellor’s decision to go ahead with additional increases in Air Passenger Duty is very disappointing.

“The post Brexit world in which we now live, is a very different one from where we were twelve months ago.

“Levying sky high taxes on aviation sends out the worst possible message as we look to build our business relationships and connections outside of Europe.

“APD also represents an unjustifiably high economic burden on hard pressed family budgets and Abta urges the government to follow the lead of the Scottish government and make a firm commitment to halving this retrogressive tax.”

Giving her response to chancellor Philip Hammond’s first budget – and the final one to be held in the spring – said: “The £300 million spread around England’s local authorities to soften the blow of massive increases in business rates is a tiny drop in the ocean.

“We remain extremely worried that some small hospitality businesses, facing an average 23% rates increase, will be forced out of business .

“The chancellor’s move will do nothing to stop the Valuation Office being swamped with appeals – and there are still a massive 250,000 businesses waiting for a verdict on appeals made up to seven years ago.”

Giving her response to chancellor Philip Hammond’s first budget – and the final one to be held in the spring – BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim said: “The £300 million spread around England’s local authorities to soften the blow of massive increases in business rates is a tiny drop in the ocean.

“We remain extremely worried that some small hospitality businesses, facing an average 23% rates increase, will be forced out of business .

“The chancellor’s move will do nothing to stop the Valuation Office being swamped with appeals – and there are still a massive 250,000 businesses waiting for a verdict on appeals made up to seven years ago.”

American Express Global Business Travel vice president Northern Europe, Jason Geall, gave a more upbeat reaction.

“In terms of the economy, there seemed to be a lot to be optimistic about in the chancellor’s budget,” he said.

“The revised OBR forecasts show steady, if modest, growth over the next four years, which is positive news for UK PLC.

“I was particularly encouraged by government claims that job creation, real wages and productivity have all risen in the regions, driven predominantly by the SME sector.

“This is largely aligned with what we have seen in the marketplace: many more SMEs and local businesses want to discuss how to better manage their travel budgets, or how to manage travel spend for the first time.

“This is important for the travel management business. It is the strength of the SME sector that drives most western economies; if TMCs can help them travel and trade is the safest, most cost effective and comfortable way possible, then we will play a central role in powering economic growth.”

He added: “In another sense, we must also be realistic about the future. The chancellor did not hide his caution given this was a pre-Brexit budget.

“Therefore, in spite of the optimism, we must still as an industry remain resolutely aware of what the uncertainty means.

“There are many areas directly linked to business travel and travel management that could change – rules surrounding freedom of movement, travel visas and border control are fundamental to our models; air passenger rights, EU open skies agreements, security and data privacy concerns will all be part of the negotiation with the EU.

“It will be the responsibility of TMCs and travel managers to steer UK businesses through these coming years.

“That said, uncertainly about Brexit has not impacted business travel volumes so far, aside perhaps from a very short-lived dip immediately after the referendum result.

“Financial services and pharmaceutical sectors have had a challenging time over the last 12 months, but that has nothing to do with Brexit. Professional services and technology companies, on the other hand, have travelled much more in the past year. It remains a mixed bag across industry verticals.”

GTMC chief executive, Paul Wait, said: “Whilst it is reassuring to see the chancellor recognises the importance of Britain being a key player in the global economy, there needs to be stronger focus on the attention to detail to achieve this.

“We have long campaigned for reductions to APD which didn’t materialise in today’s budget.

“APD therefore remains a barrier to international business travel, both inbound and outbound, and actively works against businesses tying to grow internationally.”

He added: “We welcome the investment into regional infrastructure and the positive steps in supporting economic growth outside of the south-east.

“Likewise, the investment in broadband and 5G networks will also be welcome news to UK businesses. Certainly these can support growth closer to home.

“But we are concerned that this is an inward-looking budget. If the chancellor is to achieve his ambition of Britain being a leader in the global economy then we would advise that he sets his sights further in order to support trade and empower British businesses to grow internationally.”

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