Earlier this month, Labour Shadow Minister, Sadiq Khan, called for the introduction of a levy on `overnight accommodation’, a move echoed by a Labour Select Committee Chairman and many Labour councillors. When I hear that phrase I instantly think of boarding houses and the 1860s novel Little Women, when heroine Jo March, decides to move to the city to live and work in one. It conjures up images of ordinary people struggling to make their way in life, staying in an unassuming home, often run by a modest widow or someone who has fallen on hard times.
However, according to the Labour Party, that’s not the case anymore. Hotels mean holidays, apparently. People who can afford to stay away for the night, should pay for the privilege. The impact on the industry will be huge. Up to 43,000 businesses in the UK would be hit by an extra duty. That’s on top of what they already pay in VAT, corporation tax, business rates of £660 million a year and National Insurance.
UK hotels are already highly overpriced. For all those families who have decided to stay in the UK rather than holiday abroad to save money, it is an extra hammering amount. A hotel tax could typically add about £126 extra to the cost of a two-week stay in a reasonably priced hotel, or even more to a trip to Madame Tussaud’s in London or the beach in Brighton.
With more and more women now working in the hospitality industry (sixty per cent), and very often at the low paid end of it, it is also likely to result in less work for women who really need it in these cash strapped times.