Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer has praised new chancellor Rishi Sunak for his “quick and decisive” action on the coronavirus crisis outlined in Wednesday’s Budget (11 March).
The association this week called for urgent financial relief to support the travel and tourism sector; its proposed measures included bridging loans; business rate relief; extensions to VAT and PAYE payment deadlines; and a six-month Air Passenger Duty “holiday”.
In his first Budget since taking over from Sajid Javid last month, Sunak announced a one-year temporary abolition of business rates for premises with a rateable value of less than £51,500, which will likely benefit independent agents, as well as small hotels and B&Bs.
Other measures included cash grants for those small businesses that qualify for rate relief, and statutory sick pay refunds for up to 14 days for employees who have to self-isolate.
“Abta called for the government to support the travel and tourism industry this week in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, and the new chancellor has acted quickly and decisively with certain measures that will support smaller businesses in particular,” said Tanzer.
“Travel businesses are under increasing pressure; steps such as the business interruption loan scheme, the emergency cut to interest rates, and support for small businesses with sickness payments for staff, will provide some welcome relief and a degree of protection for at least some members in the weeks to come.”
Tanzer, though, said the measures announced by the chancellor and the Bank of England, which has reduced interest rates from 0.75% to 0.25%, designed to increase access to short-term credit now needed to be turned into reality.
“The government must work with lenders to ensure the measures are effective on the ground,” said Tanzer.“We shall continue to monitor the situation as it evolves and liaise with the government on behalf of our members regarding any additional support measures.”