Evesham’s MP Nigel Huddleston writes for the Observer..
THIS month we’ve had more announcements from the Prime Minister and Chancellor about additional support for sectors impacted by Coronavirus and the easing of more restrictions which will slowly make most of our lives easier and more pleasurable.
From July 4, we saw a big loosening of restrictions across a number of sectors – including pubs and hairdressers. As Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, I was pleased that many other leisure facilities as well as hotels, B&Bs, caravan parks, museums, theme parks and galleries could open again. Last week, we also announced a timetable for reopening of gyms, pools, and grassroots sports. VAT for hospitality, accommodation and visitor attractions will be cut from 20% to 5% for the next sic months – amounting to a £4billion VAT cut.
In the last few weeks, I was glad to see lots of residents out and about again in town centres after non-essential shops reopened on June 15. I have spoken to many businesses over the last few weeks and know that a huge amount of effort has gone into making sure that premises open up safely for staff and customers. I have also visited local heritage sites such as Hanbury Hall and Hartlebury Castle and tourism sites around the Cotswolds to learn more about how they have been impacted by lockdown and what government can do to further support tourism. The £1.57billion government rescue package to help the arts, culture and heritage industries weather the impact of coronavirus has also been widely welcomed.
Back in Westminster, we’ve been progressing with legislation and I recently led a debate on government support to industry where we had many thoughtful and useful contributions. I continue to lead working groups to help identify what further support is required to help individuals and businesses back to work and have been working with industry bodies to develop guidance on how businesses can open safely.
We’ve come a long way since the peak lockdown period, and I’m hopeful that by continuing to follow the guidelines we’ll stay on this path to recovery.