Blackpool to press for more support for tourism and hospitality but grateful for VAT relief and furlough

Blackpool leaders have said that the continuation of the five per cent VAT rate and the furlough scheme were vital in preparing the town to bounce back after the damaging months of lockdown.

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 7:00 am

Reacting to Chancellor' Rishi Sunak s announcements in his Budget they said they were relieved by the continued help for businesses, but would be looking for more detail in the weeks to come and keep the pressure on for support for the hospitality and tourism sectors which the resort relies upon.

Michael Williams from Blackpool BID and the Winter Gardens said: “There are some headlines in the Chancellor’s announcements that will certainly help us all as we plan our recovery from the current lock down.

“Extending furlough is a welcome relief for us all and the business rates holiday and five per cent VAT rate enjoyed by hospitality and tourism businesses which will also continue, will allow time for Blackpool Town Centre Businesses to recover once coronavirus restrictions start to ease.”

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The Chancellor's continuation of the VAT relief and furlough schemes have been welcomed in Blackpool
The Chancellor's continuation of the VAT relief and furlough schemes have been welcomed in Blackpool

Coun Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council, said: "We welcome the support measures announced as part of this year's Budget, including the continued business rates holiday and the extensions of both the furlough scheme and the reduced VAT rate. These are measures that are particularly important to our tourism and hospitality businesses and it is pleasing that the Chancellor has taken heed of the requests for ongoing help.

“As the whole of Blackpool begins to prepare for the town's phased reopening following last week's roadmap announcement, we are hopeful that these measures will go some way towards both providing essential protection for businesses and their staff, as well as kick-starting the recovery of our economy.

"As ever, we will be doing everything in our power to help ensure that struggling businesses not only survive the remaining months of lockdown, but also remain in a position to reopen safely as restrictions ease. As soon as full guidance is provided on the proposed Restart Grants as announced by the Chancellor, our business support department will be on hand to develop a way allocating any funding as efficiently as possible.

"We have lobbied long and hard for recognition of the unique challenges facing the tourism and hospitality industry and, given that these businesses will miss out on crucial early spring trade, we will continue to press Government for tangible support that facilitates a sustainable recovery in the months ahead.”

Coun Lynne Williams

Coral Horn from the Pink Link business support group said: "As we approach the initial steps out of lockdown, the extension of the furlough scheme feels as though the Government is sending mixed messages which doesn’t help to build consumer confidence. The increase in Corporation Tax to 25 per cent is disappointing.

"While it will protect some of the smaller businesses who don’t meet the threshold, it doesn’t help the majority of businesses. Although the Chancellor gave special thanks to mums who have been juggling home-schooling and increased familial care while working from home, there was a stark absence of him addressing the gender pay gap."

Allan Cadman, North West regional chair of the insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, warned of potential trouble ahead.

He said: "What was missing from the Chancellor’s Budget was detail about the Government’s role once these measures start to be withdrawn. As a key creditor in most corporate insolvencies, the Government has a direct role to play in supporting viable restructuring and business rescue proposals. HMRC in particular has not always taken a constructive approach to these proposals, and we would like to see this change sooner rather than later.

“By taking a more active and engaged stance as a creditor, the Government could help to save more potentially viable businesses, thereby safeguarding thousands of jobs, securing future tax income, and giving companies a chance to deal with liabilities resulting from the pandemic.

“There’s no denying the Government’s COVID measures have helped businesses in the short-term, but as the Chancellor pointed out, these can’t last forever. Directors of struggling companies now have a few months in which to start making plans and taking decisions to secure the future of their businesses."