Thank you very much for your email. I totally agree with you regarding the importance of supporting the tourism and hospitality sectors through and beyond this Covid-19 crisis.
As the MP for Penrith and The Border, I am doing everything I can in Westminster and Cumbria to address the concerns of my constituents. I am feeding in requests to Government for support for all areas of our economy and community and will continue to do so. Equally, I am feeding in to Government regularly and pushing for more flexibility and breadth in the very welcome support schemes that the Government has introduced during this crisis.
I know that many hospitality businesses in Penrith and The Border are experiencing serious challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and I very much sympathise with any employee who may be facing redundancy during this difficult time.
The Government is working tirelessly to support businesses to get through these challenging and unprecedented circumstances caused by the Coronavirus outbreak. I pushed for more flexibility in the furlough scheme and the business grants and was really heartened that the Chancellor responded, so that more people and businesses could be covered. I was especially pleased that the Government responded to my calls for more flexibility and discretion to be allowed in the allocation of grants to include businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector such as bed and breakfasts.
Please know I have raised and continue to raise these important issues and am very aware of the importance of the hospitality sector to our local and indeed UK economy (not to mention the positive benefits you provide to the holidaying public).
I include below the link to my speech from last year in the Covid-19 debate for your interest; you can see my repeated reference to support for your sector.
That said, new variant and announcement of new restrictions across England will no doubt have come as a blow to many hospitality businesses, including pubs, restaurants and cafes operating in the constituency.
Under these new restrictions, all hospitality venues are required to close in England, including cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs, with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. If a business offers delivery, they may continue to provide all food and drink via delivery, including alcohol.
To help support hospitality businesses through this difficult time, I welcome that decisive action has been taken and businesses have benefited from a combination of grants, funds, Government-backed loans and a business rates holiday. This has included business interruption loans, bounce back loans and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which has supported 1.4 million hospitality jobs. I am pleased the CJRS has been extended until the end of April 2021.
Eligible closed hospitality businesses may receive grants of up to £3,000 per month. Furthermore, in light of the England-wide restrictions, the Chancellor has announced additional grants for closed businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector of up to £9,000.
In addition, the temporary reduction in VAT (5 per cent from 20 per cent) for hospitality and tourism businesses has been extended until 31 March 2021.
I am pleased that the Government has extended the business eviction ban until the end of March 2021 to support businesses worst affected by the pandemic, such as pubs, bars and restaurants, rebuild over the winter period.
I am aware that some hospitality businesses have called for the business rates holiday and the temporary reduction in VAT for hospitality and tourism businesses to be extended.
All retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will benefit from paying no business rates for the 2020-21 financial year, regardless of their rateable value. This relief applies to over 350,000 properties and is worth almost £10 billion.
I know that the Chancellor is keeping the situation under close review to ensure that the most effective support can be made available when necessary. Likewise, the restrictions in place and will be kept under regular review and I will continue to follow any developments closely.
Please know that I will continue to press the case with Government on keeping under review the scope for additional targeted support for those sectors that continue to struggle and are slower to recover such as the tourist and hospitality sectors and the aviation sector. In addition I am a member of the Gaps in Support All Parliamentary Group working for additional support.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.