Page last updated at 00:39 GMT, Thursday, 26 February 2009

Call to cut VAT on bingo rejected

A bingo hall
The government says tax is not the root of the bingo industry's problems

Bingo halls will not have their VAT rates cut despite claims the tax is forcing clubs to close with the loss of thousands of jobs, the government says.

Exchequer Secretary Angela Eagle ruled altering the tax system would not be an "appropriate solution".

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming had called for VAT to be scrapped, claiming other forms of gambling pay 15% while bingo halls cumulatively face 32%.

But Ms Eagle dismissed the claim and said clubs were actually taxed at 25%.

She added that other forms of gambling attracted other forms of taxation and bingo halls paid the "average" level for most forms of gambling.

Mr Hemming said ministers "had it in" for bingo and its mainly working-class members and claimed scrapping VAT would only cost around 10m.

He said more than 100 clubs had closed in the last six years, leading to at least 3,500 job losses.

But Ms Eagle said: "Our assessment remains that tax is not at the root of the industry's problems and nor do we believe that alteration of the tax regime would be an appropriate solution to them."

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