Campaigners against changes in VAT that affect showground fairs met for the first time at a crisis summit in London. They now intend to form a trade federation to fight the changes.
In a meeting chaired by ATG, 12 antiques and
collectables fair organisers - from the very largest to much
smaller scale operations - gathered at the Holiday Inn in
Bloomsbury to debate how to tackle the threat which they believe
could put them and their stallholders out of business.
The degree of seriousness with which the
issue is being taken was illustrated by one delegate who said:
"This is the largest number of organisers I have ever seen in the
same room together."
As reported previously, Customs and Excise
are interpreting existing rules in a new way which means that stallholders at
showground fairs face being charged 20% VAT on their pitch
rentals. Additional European Union regulations due to be
ratified in the UK reinforce the changes.
The majority of stallholders at such fairs
are not VAT registered and so would not be able to reclaim the
charge, and with profit margins being very low in most cases, the
extra cost risks rendering their businesses unviable.
International Antiques and Collectors Fairs
Ltd (IACF), who rent out over 30,000 pitches a year at Newark,
Ardingly, Shepton Mallet, Swinderby and Newbury, and Alexandra
Palace organisers Nelson Events have joined forces to mount a legal
challenge via a VAT tribunal, which is due to rule sometime next
They called the summit in London where
fellow organisers expressed their frustration and fears of what the
changes threatened to do.
The result was the setting up of a working
party to focus on the formation of a trade federation. This will
then commission a study to show the likely effects on the industry,
as well as developing publicity and lobbying campaigns to fight the
Paul Kelly of Nelson Events, who is
co-ordinating the working party with Will Harris of IACF and Alan
Yourston of B2B Events, helped by ATG Editor Ivan Macquisten, said:
"The next step is to gather information and support from our fellow
organisers in order to build a strong case for our campaign against
"We believe there is a compelling argument
that supports our cause, and we call on all antiques and collectors
fair organisers to sign up as members of the federation when it is
founded, as they all stand to gain by our efforts."
More details will be published as they emerge.