Lincolnshire gardeners to benefit from tax loophole closure

LINCOLNSHIRE gardeners look set to benefit following the recent announcement of the closure of the Channel Islands tax loophole according to Louth Garden Centre.

Jane Allen-Chilman, Manager of the garden centre in Legbourne Road has welcomed the Treasury’s decision to close the mail order VAT loophole because she says it’s good for gardeners.

Jane said: “The anomaly was putting independent retailers out of business and costing £140 million a year in lost tax receipts, but not only was it wrecking businesses and revenue, it was also eco-unfriendly.

“The extra transportation of these plants inevitably has an effect on their health and longevity, and also adds hundreds of additional plant miles to their lives, which is not environmentally-sound. Consumers have no idea how far their plants travel.”

From April 1, 2012, the VAT waiver known as low value consignment relief (LVCR) will no longer apply to goods sent from the Channel Islands.

The practice began in horticulture, where many plants and bulbs grown in the UK were imported in bulk to Jersey and Guernsey for repackaging, and then sold back into the mainland via mail order.

Mail order retailers made fortunes from the tax concession, which allowed them to post goods worth less than £18 from Jersey and Guernsey free of VAT, undercutting UK competitors.

Jane added: “Many plants are shipped from nurseries on the mainland to the Channel Islands to take advantage of the VAT loophole and then shipped back to gardeners who ordered them by mail order from the mainland.

“The closure of the loophole means that many of the best nurseries in the country can now operate from a level playing field and customers will receive a better quality of plant. This is good for English nurseries, employment and gardeners.

“We concentrate purely on the quality of our plants and grow as many as we can within our own nurseries at our sister garden centres in The Garden Centre Group: Bridgemere Nursery & Garden World in Cheshire, Heighley Gate Nursery & Garden Centre in Northumberland, Old Barn Nursery & Garden Centre in West Sussex and Woodlands Nursery & Garden Centre in Leicestershire.”