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1 MARCH 2010


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Article from BTNews 1 MARCH 2010

SOAPBOX EXTRA: Flight tax hits poorest and ethnic minorities hardest

A new survey conducted by Flying Matters, the lobby group, in the ten most diverse constituencies in Britain, the majority held by Labour, has revealed that the hikes in flight tax will hit the poorest and ethnic minorities hardest.  Published last week it seemed logical to group together with Glenvil Smith’s “NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!” featured in our monthly ON THE SOAPBOX for the start of March.

Over 60% of those in the lowest social bands and two thirds of ethnic minorities said that the rises which came into force last November will impact on how often they visit their family abroad, compared to just over half of the general population (55%).

Those on the lowest incomes and ethnic minorities were also more likely to be fearful that the tax will affect how often their relatives come to visit them in Britain (61% of people in the DE social group compared to 52% of those in the AB category; and 70% of ethnic minorities compared to 60% of the general population).

The research shows how the further away people's relatives live the more likely the tax is to impact how often they and their families are able to visit each other.

The survey, carried out by Populus for FlyingMatters, the national campaign for flying, also reveals that two thirds of the population are concerned about the impact of further rises in the flight tax after those planned for November this year.  This rises to three quarters of ethnic minorities.

A family of four travelling to the furthest destinations will pay £220 in Air Passenger Duty this year, compared to £160 prior to the rise.  This will go up to £340 in November this year.  This comes on top of the doubling of Air Passenger Duty in February 2007.

Over half of the population (56%) in the seats polled have relatives abroad compared to nearly three quarters of ethnic minorities (74%).

The survey shows how the poorest and ethnic minorities are feeling the rises in the general cost of living more than others.  Just over half of people (53%) in the constituencies polled feel that they are spending more in all areas of their lives compared to a year ago, whilst 57% of ethnic minorities and 58% of in one of the lowest income brackets agreed this was the case.

Nearly two thirds (65%) of ethnic minorities were more likely than the general population (58%) to say they would consider cutting back on other holidays so that they could still afford to see their family. They were also more likely to cut back on 'little luxuries' (62% compared to 57% of the general population) and to cut back on going out/socialising (61% compared to 52% of the general population).

Worryingly, 3 in 10 people (31%) said they would cut back on groceries and more than a third said they would cut back on heating and home energy costs.  Those on the lowest incomes and ethnic minorities were slightly more likely to say they would cut back on these things.

Just over half the population (56%) said they would consider trying to find a higher paid job so that they could continue to afford to see their family abroad, whilst more than two thirds (68%) of ethnic minorities said they would consider this.  This was followed by working longer hours (59% of ethnic minorities and 51% of the general population agreed they would consider this option).

Commenting on the findings, Brian Wilson, Chairman of FlyingMatters, said:

"In these constituencies well over half the population have relatives living abroad.  The increases in flight tax will hit these people hard with poorer families and ethnic minorities suffering most.  It is a deeply regressive tax.

"Many of these people are being taxed out of the right to visit their loved ones.  This is deeply unfair and politically insensitive."

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