Transport secretary Grant Shapps has defended the lack of sector specific support for the UK travel industry, insisting travel has “perhaps been the most paid out sector” under the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) scheme.
Speaking during the Abta Travel Convention on Wednesday (14 October), Shapps was quizzed following his speech by moderator ITV’s Chris Ship, who pointed out the hospitality sector had been given government support when businesses had been forced to close for public health reasons, unlike the travel industry, "which has been effectively forced to close by government restrictions such as quarantine". “Why are you not offering the travel sector support, when tens of thousands of jobs are at risk?” Ship asked.
In response Shapps referenced the furlough scheme, insisting: “Just to be upfront about it, there’s been billions of pounds of support for the travel industry – the furlough scheme was amongst the most generous in the world.
“Over 55,000 travel employees have been able to benefit from the furlough scheme which has gone on for six months now, so that’s been huge,” he said.
Shapps also highlighted other schemes, “including the Bank of England’s CCFF scheme”, adding: “The last time I looked, £1.8 billion has been paid out to aviation sector. That’s 11% of the total, so I think I’m right in saying that this is perhaps the most paid out sector under that CCFF scheme.
“So it’s not that there’s not been a lot of things happening,” he said. “I think the most important thing of all is to get the sector moving again. And to do that, [we need] things like being able to open up more travel corridors by enabling Test and Release.
“Indeed removing quarantine entirely would be bluntly better than anything the tax payer could do to support [the industry]. That would be actually ensuring that people could travel again and since it looks like we’re going to need to live with this coronavirus for quite some time, I think it’s important that we do those things because they’re for the medium term rather than just short term.”