Wigan market traders given new hope over VAT row

Traders from Wigan Market and opposition councillors holding a protest against the VAT payments outside Wigan Town Hall earlier this year
Traders from Wigan Market and opposition councillors holding a protest against the VAT payments outside Wigan Town Hall earlier this year

Market traders embroiled in a major dispute over paying VAT on their stalls have been given a financial boost following a town hall meeting.

Wigan Council bosses last week agreed to freeze the 20 per cent tax payments for the stallholders until the matter has been considered by cabinet in the New Year.

The traders will also be charged lower fees to offset the money they have already paid.

The row over VAT has been going on for months, with the town hall saying they are being leaned on by the taxman to collect the additional tax.

But traders, backed by opposition politicians, have battled fiercely against the charges, saying many stalls will be unable to survive if it has to be paid.

Legal advice has also been sought and there have been high-profile national negotiations seeking official clarity on whether stallholders should be charged VAT or not.

Following last week’s meeting Becca Heron, director for economy and skills at Wigan Council, said: “We’re committed to helping our markets thrive and supporting local businesses.

“The implementation of VAT on market rentals was introduced following HMRC advice. The council will not and has not received any income generated.

“We value the opinions of local traders and whilst we assess their concerns over the VAT charge, we have decided not to collect the VAT at this time.

“Any VAT collected at present will be used to offset rent payments.

“The decision to add VAT onto rents will be re-visited by cabinet in the new year following further discussions with traders.”

Hindley Green independent representative Coun Paul Maiden, who has supported the market traders throughout, said: “It’s really good news, especially in the run-up to Christmas.

“It shouldn’t have taken five months to get the meeting but I think we’ve now thrown this off and beaten it.

“Traders can’t survive with a 20 per cent hike.

“A lot of them are struggling to make the minimum wage.”