“We stand shoulder to shoulder with the tourism sector” plus details of second round of resilience fund opening mid-June
This afternoon the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates MS gave a statement to the Senedd’s Plenary session that included details of a second phase of economic resilience fund opening mid-June, along with a firm commitment on the tourism sector saying Welsh Government stands ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with the sector.
The Minister opened by detailing the level of support given so far, stating: “As we approach the summer season, we are all aware of the impact coronavirus is having on the tourism and hospitality sector.
“One of the more recent concerns that has been raised with me is the issue of prompt payments to small businesses.
“I urge all large organisations, both in the public and in the private sector, to play their part in supporting those smaller businesses by making payments on time.
“Our package of support is the most generous for businesses anywhere in the UK, and it includes a £100 million loans scheme to help more than 1,000 businesses through the Development Bank of Wales; a £400 million economic resilience fund grant scheme, which, for phase 1, has attracted more than 9,500 applications, with over 6,000 offers already made to date, worth in excess of £100 million; and also, of course, the non-domestic rates-based grant support for small businesses and businesses operating in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, awarding to date 51,100 grants worth more than £626 million. It’s a total package of £1.7 billion, worth 2.7 per cent of gross domestic product.”
The Minster explained that the economic resilience fund would be reopening: “On 27 April, we paused the economic resilience fund to give us an opportunity to consider where further support could make the biggest impact, not only to help those businesses we haven’t already reached, but also to consider what support all businesses will need through the ongoing rescue phase, as well as into the restart and recovery phases, as lockdown measures are eased in line with last Friday’s framework.
“That work is advancing well and we are finalising the details of the next phase of the economic resilience fund.
“I expect to reopen the economic resilience fund eligibility checker for new applications by the middle of June, allowing companies time to prepare their applications. Following that, I expect to open for full applications later in the month.
“This will enable access to the remaining £100 million of the £300 million already approved and allocated to support microbusinesses, small and medium sized enterprises and large businesses.
The Minister explained phase two of the fund will operate in the same way as phase one, but with an update to the micro scheme. This will enable limited companies that are not VAT registered to access the fund, something that so many small businesses have been calling for.
The Minister added: “In addition, we are also working with our partners in local government to develop further support proposals for those not yet reached—for example, start-up businesses. We’ve also supplemented the Government’s discretionary assistance fund, which supports people who are recently employed but not eligible for the job retention scheme, as well as the self-employed.”
Responding to a question from Helen Jones MS about tourism businesses and the need particularly for them to be able to have their safe return to work guidance as soon as possible, Skates said: “I can give my assurance that I’ll be publishing the criteria as soon as I possibly can—full criteria—and I’ll be making a statement to Members.
“Can I say that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the tourism sector right now? It has never been through such uncertain times as it’s going through right now, and we wish to support the sector in every way we can, alongside the UK Government, who obviously have far deeper pockets and the ability to support the sector with financial resource.”
On the same topic he added later: “In terms of the tourism industry, we have asked UK Government to consider a VAT holiday in the tourism sector. I think this could be very beneficial, particularly in the recovery period.”
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