From The Times
April 4, 2009
Chancellor not doing enough to help British antique and fine art dealers maximise their global appeal
Sir, Last year many antique and fine art dealers were forced to close their premises as a direct result of high rent and business rate increases, at a faster rate than in previous recessions. While the Chancellor’s rethink on the previously tabled increase in business rates shows some sensitivity to the needs of businesses, it does not do enough to help this often overlooked sector.
In 2007 the UK’s antiques and art industry generated revenue of £4 billion. Global revenue from the art and antiques market was £40 billion in 2007, the UK’s contribution therefore represented 10 per cent of the global market share. In 2008, however, there was a significant fall to £2.75 billion. While other sectors are receiving help from the Government, the antiques industry — which is partly reliant on the housing market — does not. Even the recent VAT reduction does not help us.
The antiques industry creates jobs in tourism, shipping, transport and conservation. At a local level, antique shops provide an important draw to country towns, helping other local shops and businesses. Every closure leaves a gap in provincial streetscapes. On an ecological level, the antiques industry encourages the re-use of old and beautiful things, reducing landfill and new-goods consumption.
With sterling at its lowest for some considerable time, UK products are once again attractive to overseas buyers. With some marketing support from the Government, we could be using this opportunity to reach the world market for antiques.
Iain Michael Brunt
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