Northern Ireland retailers have been largely left outside the UK’s bid to revive the economy unveiled in the Government’s mini-budget.
he Growth Plan 2022 will pave the way for foreign shoppers heading to Britain to save hundreds of pounds on luxury goods through a range of tax-free perks.
However, because the scheme is limited to England, Scotland and Wales, consumers from the Republic won’t be able to just nip over the border to avail of a VAT discount.
However it has been reported that the Government is looking at “modernising” Northern Ireland’s current system.
Retail NI chief Glyn Roberts described it as a “missed opportunity”.
“We were looking for an overall Vat cut which wasn’t in [the plan],” he said.
“If it was designed to help high street businesses, it’s a disappointment.”
The proposal, which was revealed by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng on Friday, will allow non-UK visitors to Britain to claim tax refunds on goods they intend to take home in their personal baggage.
That means big savings through an initiative that effectively brings ‘duty free shopping’ out of the airport and onto the high street.
Smartphones, laptops, and gaming consoles, as well as designer clothes, handbags and jewellery, are among the items that would be discounted.
It would mean visitors to London will be able to get a new iPhone 14 for just £879.20.
The same device is £1,099 in the Apple store in Belfast’s Victoria Square shopping centre.
Luxury shoppers may prefer a top-of-the-range £83,000 Hublot men’s watch, which they could get their hands on for £66,400 in Britain.
We remain on the same VAT regime as the Republic in accordance with existing Brexit arrangements, although slightly lower than the 23% rate across the border.
There are concerns the proposed scheme, which may not be rolled out until 2024, could severely disrupt the market for expensive gadgets across the island of Ireland.
Mr Kwarteng unleashed historic tax cuts and huge increases in borrowing as he scrapped the top rate of income tax and cancelled a planned rise in corporation tax.
The announcement sent sterling and UK Government bonds into freefall, with the pound sliding below $1.11 for the first time in 37 years.
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