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Discontent leads to £6.5m. tourist business support scheme delay

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INDUSTRY opposition has led to Policy & Resources rolling back on its new grant scheme for hotels, guest houses and self-catering.

Deputy Lyndon Trott. (28427227)

It announced the scheme on Friday, saying it would be available from yesterday with an estimated cost to the public purse of £6.5m., replacing the payroll co-funding scheme for this sector.

Now it will not be introduced until October.

The decision to delay the introduction follows further discussions with the industry, P&R said.

Some have expressed concern that they had not had sufficient time to prepare for the move away from a payroll co-funding scheme to a new support mechanism and that the new grant scheme brought more uncertainty over the value of support levels at a vital time for the sector.

'Finding the right kind of support for this particular sector within the tourism industry has been a real challenge,' said P&R vice-president Lyndon Trott.

'We’ve consulted heavily with business owners and had very mixed responses in terms of what kind of support would work best for them. The sector is incredibly varied. We’re committing in the region of £6.5m to this sector because we know it’s having a very tough time and we genuinely value it.

'We want these businesses to still be here at the beginning of next year’s season when we hope they will be able to welcome tourists again in the way they normally would. But this is a considerable amount of hardworking taxpayers’ money, especially given the millions already paid out in business support and given we are still supporting other industries, including other parts of the tourism sector. So we need to be realistic about what our aims are - this is purely about helping viable businesses be in a position to operate next year.'

He said that if the industry is able to work out a better, fairer way of providing this £6.5m, they would be happy to discuss it.

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'But we’ve already had a lot of discussion with businesses and so far there is no single preferred model, everyone has their own ideas of what they’d like. Throughout this pandemic, we’ve had to make big decisions in a short timeframe,

and we’ve had to ask businesses to respond quickly too. In this crisis, there simply hasn’t been the time available for the kind of long-term planning and back-and-forth discussion in the way we might in normal times. But we do want to work with businesses in the spirit of Guernsey Together, which has got us this far. Business owners have asked for more time to prepare for how they’ll apply to the new scheme and to work out what it will mean for them, so we’ve agreed to do that.'

No details were released about the levels of grants that would be available and how that compared to the current level of support.

After 30 September, tourist accommodation businesses will not be able to claim from the payroll scheme, under which they can continue to apply for either 80% or 100% of the minimum wage for employees depending on the extent to which the business is impacted.

P&R does not believe there will be any extra costs as a result of the decision.

The precise levels of grants will need to be revisited ahead of their introduction in October, P&R said.

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann
author

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