Hospitality Industry: Government Support — [Graham Stringer in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:18 pm on 11th January 2021.

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Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and International Development) 5:18 pm, 11th January 2021

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Stringer. I second the comments of my hon. Friend Catherine McKinnell on virtual participation in these proceedings. I hope that can come sooner rather than later. I also second many of her excellent comments in opening this crucial debate. It was disappointing to come to this debate after the Chancellor’s statement earlier—the first statement he has made in Parliament in 41 days. He had very little new to say. I think many of the hospitality businesses in Cardiff South and Penarth and in many of our constituencies would have hoped for something different, given the new and very difficult but necessary restrictions that they face.

I also second many of the points made by colleagues across the House about the support that will be required to ensure that businesses can come out on the other side of this when restrictions can eventually be lifted. I have had a huge number of emails from businesses in my constituency of Cardiff South and Penarth and from concerned constituents who point out that turnover across the sector is down by 40%, and that 41% of businesses might fail in 2021, yet one in six new jobs in the economy were created in this sector. I know that from my own constituency.

Even during the pandemic, businesses were able to set up, particularly during the summer period, and get going, but have found themselves in new difficulties. We have to remember that the sector is much wider than it appears on the face of it. It is not just the pubs, restaurants and cafés; it is also the food supply businesses, the breweries and the laundries—I have some major laundries in my constituency. It is the wider economy and all the jobs that come with it.

I commend the approach taken by the Welsh Government. A new tranche of the economic resilience fund was announced in December—£340 million for hospitality, tourism and leisure—on top of the £1 billion they announced to support businesses through rates relief and other measures, as well as the job retention scheme and the self-employment income support scheme. The new measures required new support, and on 18 December, they were announced with £110 million of support.

On the situation facing pubs in particular—my hon. Friend Charlotte Nichols raised many of these issues—many local independent pubs in my constituency have contacted me in significant difficulties, but primarily I want to raise the case of Brains Brewery, one of the signature brands of Wales. Tragically, it has found itself in significant difficulties.

Brains has its headquarters in my constituency and has been brewing there for many decades. It is one of the things at the very heart and soul of Welsh culture or, certainly, of Cardiff culture, as anybody who knows groups like the Hennessys will know—they refer to the importance of Brains Dark and many other fantastic brews. Now, while more than 1,000 jobs have been able to be saved through a deal with Marston’s, the tragic possibility is that Brains beer will no longer be brewed in Cardiff.

I have been speaking with the Welsh Government, Cardiff Council and others, and I urge the Minister to consider what support can be given to breweries in particular, especially those with particular cultural and historical heritage in parts of the UK. I hope that he can address some of those concerns in his remarks.