The Autumn Statement - Wednesday 22 November 2023

Read our Chief Executive, Dee Corsi’s comments following the Autumn Statement at the House of Commons earlier today (22 November).

Dee Corsi, Chief Executive, New West End Company, said:

"We were disappointed that the Chancellor failed to directly address the lack of tax-free shopping for overseas visitors in today’s Autumn Statement speech, although it was referenced in his 110 measures for growth. Reintroducing tax-free shopping would have been a simple but effective measure to put British businesses back on an equal footing with European counterparts and inject much-needed growth into the economy – failing to do so immediately is a missed opportunity.

"That said, in response to a follow-up question from Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the Chancellor said he “hoped” that a reassessment of the impact of tax-free shopping would show a diminished cost to the Treasury. With all independent evidence indicating that the reversal of the ‘tourist tax’ would actually have a net positive effect on tax revenues, we would urge him to conduct this reassessment without delay. Following the Treasury’s welcome confirmation that is reviewing all data, we will continue to work with our members to submit further representations, demonstrating the positive impact of reinstating tax-free shopping.

"Fairly considering all measures which would drive economic growth is particularly pertinent given that larger businesses – including high street retailers, who employ thousands of workers – have been excluded from the extended freeze on business rates, which will benefit smaller businesses for the third year in a row. With businesses already being impacted by challenging macro-economic conditions, we need a Chancellor who can demonstrate his commitment to creating a truly competitive environment for business growth. These decisions today will do little to assuage concerns that the needs of industry are not being fully met."