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Covid-19 Plan B: Tourism Industry

Volume 706: debated on Thursday 6 January 2022

3. What assessment she has made of the effect on the tourism industry of the covid-19 Plan B advice for people to work from home where possible. (904864)

I thank my hon. Friend for raising the vital tourism sector. He is right that some of the new rules, including the guidance to work from home, can be difficult for the tourism sector, because movement of people and social interaction is pivotal to a thriving tourism industry, but we have committed to provide support and over £35 billion has already been provided to tourism, hospitality and leisure businesses.

I thank the Minister for that response and his recognition that the advice is causing problems for a number of businesses. He is quite right. People who go out to work often use cafés, restaurants, pubs and shops outside their normal working hours. I know the Chancellor has brought in a package of measures to help businesses, and I do not advocate that businesses be closed, but when they are open but suffering from lower trade, how much they are losing is intangible and difficult to assess. Will my hon. Friend speak to the Chancellor again to see whether any further help can be given where it is necessary?

I thank my constituency neighbour again for raising these important points. We have ongoing dialogue with the Chancellor and the Treasury. The new grants the Chancellor announced just before Christmas will be very important in helping the businesses affected. Many will get the grants automatically. I encourage others—perhaps those on the edges of supply chains—that do not get the grants automatically to apply for the additional restrictions grants. The impact on them may not be obvious, and I appeal to local authorities, which have discretion in the allocation of those grants, to be sympathetic to such claims by the businesses affected in the way my hon. Friend describes.

Happy new year, Mr Speaker. The theatres, festivals and live events that are such an important part of our tourist offer have all been hit by the uncertainty around plan B, and Government support is not working. The live events reinsurance scheme was meant to protect the music, theatre and live events sector from the impact of covid, but it has been a total flop. It does not cover cancellations due to covid outbreaks, nor does it provide support outside a full national lockdown, which no one wants to happen. Given the demand that will be caused by the continued uncertainty well into the new year, will the Government urgently review the scheme and repurpose it to give businesses and workers the support they need now?

Of course the scheme is really important. We do want to make sure that it works as intended, but it is part of an overall support package for the arts sector, which includes the theatre tax reliefs that were announced prior to Christmas and the all-important culture recovery fund. Again, more money has been released from that. I am confident that the overall package will be of great support to this vital sector.