Local Commonwealth Games levy

Part of Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 1:30 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) 1:30 pm, 11th June 2020

My hon. Friend pre-empts what I am about to say. She is absolutely right, and of course as an experienced leader in local government herself, she would know more than anybody that the challenge in funding for local government has been exacerbated over the past 10 years.

We need to focus on means by which we can enable local authorities to do what they do best, which we are seeing with the work of Birmingham, Sandwell and all the boroughs across the west midlands. They know their areas best and they are able to create amazing events and opportunities that not only drive forward a city’s and a region’s economy but are a game changer in the status of a place whereby people can experience, perhaps for the first time, or the first time in a long time, what that place is like. That has incredible knock-on positives for that place.

We therefore need to concern ourselves, as a House, with opportunities to enable funding for these events. The Commonwealth games is a massive opportunity to pilot an idea that has huge support from various city leaders right across the country. The idea of applying a small levy to hotels has been discussed and investigated for quite some time now. I encourage the Minister to look seriously at this option, given the possibilities that it could create.

There are a couple of reasons why I suggest that the Minister take this seriously. The visitor economy is a growing area in our country. Until the recent coronavirus crisis, I am not sure that that was widely understood or accepted, but given the impact that the measures needed to control the virus are having on the economy, I do not think anybody would doubt it now. As a country, we rely hugely on the tourism and visitor economy, but that part of our economy must be sustainable. It takes considerable investment to get the right facilities and the right infrastructure, and to make sure that people’s experience of visiting a place is good. We need to consistently offer people a really enjoyable place to visit so that the reputation of an area grows and grows over time. That is where events like the Commonwealth games come in. They are showcase opportunities. They are a reason to visit for many thousands of people who will be excited to go to Birmingham and Sandwell. Therefore, in order to make these places sustainable, they need sources of income. That is just an economic fact of life.

With the undoubtedly positive impact of the Commonwealth games on the economy of the west midlands, we need to be sure that it is worth it to Birmingham and the wider west midlands to be hosting these games. There are measures in the Bill that require reporting by the organising committee on the impacts of the games, but we also need to be clear about how we measure the economic impact.