Hospitality businesses in the UK need “a clear road map” to help them emerge successfully from the Covid-19 pandemic says MP Damien Moore.
The Southport Conservative MP is also calling for VAT support to be extended and for the creation of a new hospitality and tourism recovery fund for the sector which he says has been “hardest hit” by the Coronavirus crisis.
The MP also said the short notice that pubs, cafes, hotels, restaurants, leisure facilities and attractions have been given before being put into and being removed from lockdowns, without sufficient time to prepare for either, was “quite wrong”. Southport has a thriving hospitality sector, boosted in part by the 9.1million visitors who enjoyed what the resort has to offer in 2019, the year before the Covid pandemic.
Mr Moore spoke on the sector’s behalf in a speech on Hospitality Industry: Government Support in Westminster Hall on Monday (11 January).
He said: “We need a clear road map. We want to work in collaboration with the hospitality industry.
“The short notice that we have been giving some of these businesses has been quite wrong.
“We must not say it on a Thursday if the pubs have to close on the Saturday - and then throw all the beer away. Similarly, we must not ask them to open on a Thursday when they have no beer brewed. We need to work with them, staging the points at which they will open those businesses.
“We want to ensure that people feel satisfied. In nearly every survey that has come back, people were satisfied with the Covid security in these businesses. We need to extend the VAT support. We need to look at business rates, of course.
“Beer duty is something that keeps coming up and it is important. A hospitality and tourism recovery fund would help.
“Giving the industry a voice and a seat at the table with the decision makers is absolutely vital - it is critical.”
Damien Moore highlighted the importance of local hospitality venues to the community.
He said: “Of all the different sectors that have been coping with this pandemic, the hardest hit has probably been the hospitality sector.
“Pubs are not just a business; ‘the local’ is a centre of the community. It helps people. It helps their wellbeing. It quite often helps them to feel more connected to the outside world.
“My resort constituency of Southport is a centre of hospitality, and has been for over 150 years.“A third of all my businesses in the constituency are based around hospitality, supporting jobs.
“There are not only the businesses that are static in my constituency; we also have various annual shows. Southport Flower Show is the largest independent flower show in the country.
“We have Southport Air Show, the British Musical Fireworks Championship, Southport Comedy Festival, Southport Food and Drink Festival, and in 2017 we attracted 235,000 visitors when Royal Birkdale hosted the Open Golf championship.
“This is a booming industry in my constituency in normal times. In 2015 it accounted for 24% of my local economy, and by 2020 the figure was 30% - a situation that I want to see continue.
“I want to see the industry not only survive the pandemic, but thrive in future.
“We are very grateful for all the support that the Government has provided. Many Members will go through the menu of things - no pun intended - such as Eat Out To Help Out, furlough, business loans and so on. We all know that they have been an absolute lifeline and we are very grateful; my local businesses are very grateful for them.
“Looking to the future, we have things such as the Town Deal that we have put in a bid for. If we get our Town Deal, we will then get the private finance that will help us to get a brand new theatre and convention centre, helping all those businesses that are reliant on the one that we have at the moment, which is closed.
“Let us ensure that we support our hospitality sector.”