With more entertainment retailers setting up online stores in the VAT-free zone of Jersey, MCV can exclusively reveal that a Government-led advisory group is meeting to discuss actions which could protect the traditional High Street.
MCV understands that the National Audit Office, which reports to Parliament on behalf of Government and public bodies, will open preliminary talks today (June 24th) in view of a full report to be published in December. Representatives from ELSPA, BARD, the British Retail Consortium and the Chartered Institute of Taxation will attend the meeting, which is to be chaired by Customs and Excise audit manager, Peter Lilly.
With major retailers flocking to take advantage of the tax breaks, smaller High Street stores will be hoping that lobbying from the Forum of Private Business, which acts on behalf of small and medium sized businesses, will have some influence on today’s meeting at the National Audit Office headquarters.
“It’s hugely unfair that big-name retailers are exploiting and undermining the law. It’s becoming terribly hard for the High Street to compete on price, and if it goes on for much longer we’ll be seeing the death of many of these stores,” said FPB spokesman Ben Pinnington.
NAO advisory group member Kim Bailey of the British Association of Record Dealers, the body which represents entertainment retailers, maintains that trading from Jersey is perfectly legitimate: “It has always been difficult for smaller stores to compete on price. It is just normal practice to try and outdo your competitors. Retailers didn’t make the laws.”
Woolworths’ spokesperson Daniel Himsworth is in agreement: “We’ve got a responsibility to our customers and shareholders to be as competitive as possible, and if everyone else is doing it, we’re not going to lose out.”