‘Duty free’ high street plan doesn’t work in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland retailers are largely outside the UK’s attempt to revive the economy, as revealed in the government’s mini-budget.

The 2022 growth plan paves the way for overseas shoppers heading to Britain to save hundreds of pounds on luxury goods through a range of tax-free benefits.

However, as the scheme is limited to England, Scotland and Wales, consumers from the Republic won’t be able to just slip across the border to get a VAT rebate.

However, it has been reported that the government is considering “modernising” Northern Ireland’s current system.

Retail NI chief Glyn Roberts described it as a “missed opportunity”.

“We were looking for an overall VAT reduction that would not be in [the plan],” he said.

“If it’s designed to help high street businesses, it’s a disappointment.”

The proposal, unveiled Friday by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, will allow non-British visitors to Britain to claim tax refunds on goods they plan to take home in their personal luggage.

That means major savings from an initiative that effectively moves ‘tax-free shopping’ from the airport to the high street.

Smartphones, laptops and game consoles, as well as designer clothes, handbags and jewelry are among the items that would be discounted.

It would mean visitors to London could get a new iPhone 14 for just £879.20.

The same device costs £1,099 in the Apple Store in the Victoria Square shopping center in Belfast.

Luxury shoppers may prefer a premium £83,000 Hublot men’s watch, which they can get their hands on in the UK for £66,400.

We will remain on the same VAT regime as the Republic in line with the existing Brexit arrangements, albeit slightly lower than the 23% cross-border rate.

There are concerns that the proposed scheme, which may not roll out until 2024, could seriously disrupt the market for expensive gadgets across the island of Ireland.

Mr. Kwarteng unleashed historic tax cuts and massive loan increases when he scrapped the top income tax rate and canceled a planned corporate tax hike.

The announcement sent UK and UK government bonds into freefall, with the pound dropping below $1.11 for the first time in 37 years.

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