Linden letter to PM

NEWSLETTER FROM CENTRAL OFFICE

15th February 2021

Four Lobbying activities we have been working on this week at Central Office & Notes on Applying for the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG):

For any queries related to any of the following information, please contact your Section Office directly.

  1. We have been continuing our lobbying directly with the Govt. Dept. of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) last week, following the Westminster Hall debate we arranged in December and the meeting with the Tourism & Heritage Minister we arranged in January. 3 letters resulting from this are attached.

• Last Wednesday we took part in a virtual meeting, directly with their DCMS Chief Scientific Advisor.
• We highlighted the difference between the type of Fairs where Social Distancing, the Group of Six, the incremental arrival and departure of visitors (like at a market and cleaning regimes are in place (like last summer / autumn) and the larger festivals with mass gathering.
• We also discussed the very much lower virus transmission rates in the Outdoors-Fresh-Air

  1. Additionally, we are developing a dialogue with the organisation that directs Public Health officers right across the country…

• …to reinforce understanding of how fairs work differently from ‘mass-gatherings events’ and to build their confidence in us regionally – with assistance from DCMS, with whom we are revising the operating Guidance right now, in readiness for the country re-opening.
• We are keen to progress this – ahead of the planned ‘Roadmap on the Easing of Restrictions’ from the P.M. on 22nd February – to assist members trying to book grounds
• We shall update you all with the outcome of this and details that you can use in applying for grounds for when the season can start across the country.

3.We are working also with the Event Industry Forum, as a member Association on this and other lobbying:

• Last Monday, we were able to provide details on the percentage of operators / Guild Members who were eligible for business rates relief (very low we assured them); as we had the figures all Sections and members worked on in December – Thank you!

4.We also were offered a lobbying letter by the EIF for Guild Members to send to their local MPs, to lobby the Chancellor ahead of the Budget on 3rd March.

• This lobbying letter is produced by the Tourism Alliance (who created similar successful letters last year).
• It is also supported by the British Visitor & Event Partnership (BVEP) – who urged all in the Event Industry to agree common communications and share the figure of £84 billion contribution to the economy in their lobbying – which we have been doing.
• We understand that the ‘asks’ in latest letter that urges the Chancellor to:
o 1. Retain the 5% VAT Rate for 2021;
o 2. Extend Business Rate Relief and Reform Business Rates; &
o 3. Retain Furlough for Businesses Impacted by Social Distancing or Travel Restrictions
… may not be relevant to many members; but we know there are some who could benefit from at least one of these ‘asks’.
• However, the final ‘ask’ in the template letter is for the Chancellor
o “to help us so that we can help in rebuilding our local economy and local community. I am very proud of my business and want to play my part in building back better…”
which many can identify with.
• Therefore, the letter (attached) and instructions on using it with your local MP is available on the Showmen’s Guild Official Website and here:

The template letter is copied below as script for you to use for this purpose. It is written so that it is widely applicable to all businesses although you are welcome to tweak it slightly so that it better fits your membership – however, please do not change the three core asks.

Please send it to your local MP.
To do this, they can use the following link to write to them
https://www.writetothem.com/

What you do is:
a.) Enter their postcode;
b.) Select “Your MP” from the list of public official in their area;
c.) Cut and paste the template letter into the box provided;
d.) Enter their details where indicated;
e.) Click send.

That’s it!
Good luck and Best Wishes,
The Central Office Team.

Template Letter: follows

“Supporting Tourism and Event Businesses in the 2021 Budget

I am writing to you because my business has been particularly impacted by Coronavirus. Indeed, the National Tourism Board (VisitBritain) confirms that tourism and event businesses like mine have collectively lost a staggering £75bn in revenue last year.

While the vaccine rollout is a light at the end of the tunnel, it is certain that business like mine will continue to suffer from social distancing and travel restrictions for some considerable time. VisitBritain’s forecast for tourism in 2021 is that while revenue will increase, we will lose another £48bn this year.

I am therefore asking for your support to help businesses like mine survive until we can properly open our doors again, welcome back customers and rebuild the local economy. The Budget is crucial not just to me, but to all the other local tourism and event businesses in this constituency. If we are able to get the support we need, we will be able to stay afloat, retain our staff and attract visitors back to the area when the time is right.

I have three requests:

  1. Retain the 5% VAT Rate for 2021 and Expand it to Help Pubs
    The cut in VAT was a lifeline last year but its use has been limited with many businesses closed since November. It makes little sense to end the cut on 1 April just as we hope to reopen. And if we want pubs to survive, it needs to be applied to on-premises alcohol sales as well.
  2. Extend Business Rate Relief and Reform Business Rates
    Business rates is one of the key costs of tourism businesses and extending the 100% Business Rates Relief scheme for 2021/22 is critical to helping us recover and rebuild. This relief also needs to help crucial components of our sector such as event organisers and suppliers, coach and tour operators, contract caterers and language schools. Even more importantly, the whole Business Rates system needs to be reformed as it is killing our town centres by placing a disproportionate burden on premises-bases businesses.
  3. Retain Furlough for Businesses Impacted by Social Distancing or Travel Restrictions

The CJRS has allowed me to retain many staff that I would otherwise have been forced to make redundant, and I am hugely grateful for it. But as long as there are significant restrictions on our operation, we need help to keep people employed.

Could I urge you to ask the Chancellor to help us so that we can help in rebuilding our local economy and local community. I am very proud of my business and want to play my part in building back better.

Thank you in anticipation for your continued support.”


(End of Template Letter…)

Applying for the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG):

For those who have been applying for Local Authority Grants, if you have been unsuccessful, keep trying and include writing to the Chief Executive of your local council and your local MP.

The Tourism & Heritage Minister and Sir David Amess, Chairman of our All-Party Parliamentary Group both have encouraged us to do so.
We have seen research showing that many Local Authorities have considerable amounts of undistributed money.

This advice (below) regarding the Guidance that local authorities have regarding the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) was on the Guild Official Facebook Group on 15th Nov (it is still there):
https://www.facebook.com/groups/417043596355287

More on the Government’s Additional Restrictions Grant Guidance….
please note the following useful clauses in the Government Official Guidance:
“How much funding will be provided to businesses?

22.Local Authorities can determine how much funding to provide to businesses from the ARG funding provided, and exactly which businesses to target.

23.However, we encourage Local Authorities to develop discretionary grant schemes to help those businesses which – while not legally forced to close – are nonetheless severely impacted by the restrictions put in place to control the spread of Covid-19. This could include – for example – businesses which supply the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, or businesses in the events sector.

24.Local Authorities may also choose to help businesses outside the business rates system, which are effectively forced to close – for example market traders.”

Some local authorities mention Fairgrounds and Circuses in specifically, (as we have asked the government to do) others don’t; but Showmen are within the definition of clause 23 and even without paying Business Rates, as mentioned in clause 24.
Early applications are advised (see how to with the links on the previous posts below.

For any queries related to any of the following information, please contact your Section Office directly.

Best wishes with your applications.
The Central Office Team

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