Luke calls for urgent support for South West hospitality in Budget

Luke Pollard, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, has today called for urgent support for South West Hospitality and Tourism businesses to be announced in the Chancellor’s Budget, due Wednesday. 

20.2% of the businesses in Cornwall and 15.4% of the businesses in Devon are in the hospitality and tourism sectors, higher than the national average, and are some of the hardest hit by the the virus and the COVID-19 restrictions. [1]

Most of the current financial support schemes for businesses are due to end in March and April. The furlough scheme, Self-employed Income Support Scheme and business rates holiday all end in April, with the VAT cuts for hospitality and accommodation, retail hospitality and leisure grants fund, and Bounce Back Loan Scheme all due to end at the end of March. [2]

With many hospitality and tourism businesses being unable to open fully until the end of June, this leaves a significant gap in support available. Many businesses in the South West are uncertain on whether they will survive. 

Luke Pollard is calling for a number of measures to be put in place in the Budget to protect jobs and businesses in the South West. He has called on the government to:

• Extend the furlough scheme for as long as public health restrictions are in place and make it smarter by linking it to training and preventing employer abuse.
• Extend business rates relief for at least another six months.
• Extend the temporary five per cent reduced rates of VAT for three months after restrictions are lifted or another six months – whichever is later.

• Back Britain’s small businesses by converting the government-backed Bounce Back Loans to a student-loans style arrangement so they only start repayments once they’re growing again.
• Confirm the fourth Self-Employed Income Support Scheme grant will be paid at 80 per cent of pre-crisis profits.
• Extend eligibility for the SEISS to anyone with a 2019-20 tax return.
• Fix the gaps in the Chancellor’s wage support schemes to support the millions who have been excluded from support since the outset of the crisis. [3]

Luke Pollard MP said:

I am very concerned that many tourism and hospitality businesses will shut permanently if Ministers do not extend economic support.

“The Chancellor needs to announce a comprehensive package of support for tourism and hospitality in his budget. If not, he is putting thousands of jobs in the South West at risk. 

“We have more businesses in hospitality and tourism then the national average, so we’ve been hit harder by the impact the virus. 

“Economic measures must match the public health measures and at the moment they are out of step. Unless Ministers act hundreds of good businesses could go to the wall across the south west – it is that serious.”

[1]See attached for ONS data on distribution of different sectors across regions;
[2] House of Commons Library, Spring Budget 2021 Background Briefing;
[3] Labour’s proposals to protect businesses.