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Marc Diaper: VAT cut could have saved fitness businesses and jobs

Cutting VAT to assist pandemic-hit fitness operators could have saved "hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs"
Marc Diaper, CEO of Gymbox, said fitness should have received similar help to that enjoyed by the hospitality sector
Diaper also contrasts the £8bn VAT cut for hospitality with the government's costly mistakes in procuring PPE
A Department of Health and Social Care report shows that the UK government wasted nearly £9bn in its handling of PPE and equipment procurement
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Cutting VAT for the pandemic-hit fitness industry could have saved businesses and jobs – just as it did across the hospitality sector, according to Marc Diaper, CEO of boutique fitness operator Gymbox, which has 11 studios across London.

Diaper says the UK government's decision not to cut VAT for the sector, in spite of intensive lobbying by industry bodies, is made all the more galling when considering the wider context of the government's costly handling of the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) and equipment during the pandemic.

The Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) annual report for 2021, published this month, has revealed that the UK wasted almost £9bn on defective, unsuitable and overpriced PPE and overpriced equipment as ministers rushed to meet unprecedented demand due to stockpiles having been run down – in spite of having received expert advice to the contrary.

"Details of £8.7bn of PPE losses are buried on page 199 of the DHSC annual report," Diaper shared in a social media rant.

"The hospitality and leisure sector also received over £8bn of savings on the VAT reduction they were given.

"This is not a dig at the hospitality sector, but a VAT reduction would have saved the fitness sector £1.3bn and rescued hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs.

"Let that sink in: £8.7bn wasted and £8bn given to hospitality, while around £1.3bn could have saved businesses that actually improve people's health and keep them out of hospital – which in turn contributes more savings to the NHS.

"Given the overwhelming evidence that being fitter and healthier would help prevent serious illness and hospitalisations, the government had – and still has – a great opportunity to prioritise the nation's health and support businesses that can make a real difference, said Diaper. "They’ve simply got to do better."

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Cutting VAT for the pandemic-hit fitness industry could have saved businesses and jobs – just as it did across the hospitality sector, according Marc Diaper, CEO of boutique fitness operator Gymbox, which operates 11 studios across London.
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