Covid-19: Support for UK Industries

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:58 pm on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Sally-Ann Hart Sally-Ann Hart Conservative, Hastings and Rye 3:58 pm, 25th June 2020

Exceptional public health decisions required to squash this virus have needed exceptional economic interventions. That is what the Government have provided through the vast economic package of support given to businesses and individuals. One email I received yesterday from a constituent, who owns Rock a Nore Kitchen, said: “As small business owners, my husband and I have both been helped by the Government. You have really looked after us and we will not forget it. The grants and furlough scheme have enabled us to keep our businesses, keep our staff, generate money into the economy and keep the high streets alive. We will recover and it is down to you all.”

Beautiful Hastings and Rye is particularly dependent on the tourism and hospitality sectors, so I was delighted to hear the Prime Minister earlier this week announce the reopening of those sectors from 4 July. This is a much needed boost to our local economy, which we desperately need. However, we also have an amazing cultural and arts sector, which has, unfortunately, largely missed out on the remarkable economic packages provided by the Government, which have helped to support over 11,000 jobs and over 5,000 self-employed people in my constituency. Now we must look to the future and see what more we can do to continue levelling up our country and turbo-charging our local economies as we recover from the health crisis.

The Government provided economic support to businesses and individuals at a critical time. Now we all have a role to play in getting out and supporting our local businesses by finding our collective confidence to do so. Together we have gripped control of this virus and together we can come out of this pandemic stronger—team UK! In encouraging visitors to our tourist attractions, shops and hospitality venues, local authorities also have a role to play in marketing our areas and banging the drum to encourage domestic tourism. With greater footfall will come more support and an energetic boost to our local businesses.

Looking to the future, we need to put rocket boosters under our creative and performing arts sector, which is the bedrock of much of the soul of Hastings and Rye, through supporting venues in my constituency from St Mary in the Castle and Hastings Contemporary to pubs such as the Crown in Hastings old town, the Piper in St Leonards and the Standard Inn in Rye—I could keep going. There are so many people who are dependent on this industry getting off the ground again. I am asking the Government to put forward a clear plan for the strategy to drive up domestic tourism, so that we can support our hospitality and cultural sectors and allow constituencies such as Hastings and Rye to bounce back after this period of lockdown. Furthermore, it would be fantastic to get reassurances from the Government that our cultural, tourism and hospitality businesses in particular will have additional measures of support to get them through the equivalent of three winters.