BEN LAKE MP urges Chancellor to extend support for hospitality to 2022.

Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson, Ben Lake MP, has today (18 February 2021) urged the Chancellor to prioritise the survival of the hospitality sector in the 2021 Budget, by extending the furlough scheme and maintaining the lowered rate of VAT for the sector. A failure to do so would “not only deal a blow to the sector but also to the wider Ceredigion economy”, according to the Plaid Cymru MP.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak is to set out the UK Government’s budget on Wednesday 3 March, almost a year since the last Budget on 11 March 2020.

Of each UK country and English region, Wales has the highest proportion of total jobs in the hospitality sector (8.5%) relative to total employment, employing over 123,000 people. In Ceredigion, hospitality businesses, such as restaurants, cafés, pubs and bars, and the events catering industry employ approximately 4,500 people, equating to more than 16% of all employees, and that is without accounting for the many supply chain jobs that depend on the sector.

To help the hospitality industry over coming months, the Ceredigion MP called on the Chancellor to extend the furlough scheme “for as long as Welsh Government restrictions require it”, reiterating his party’s view that financial support should be provided in accordance with devolved regulations rather than decided unilaterally by the Westminster government.

He also called on the Chancellor to extend the lowered rate of VAT at 5% for hospitality and tourism for a year to March 2022. Plaid Cymru had welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement in July 2020 to set a lowered rate of VAT for hospitality and tourism – a longstanding Plaid Cymru policy – and are now urging the Chancellor to continue this policy.

At a crucial stage of the pandemic, Mr Lake said that “we cannot afford to throw away successes by prematurely ending much-needed financial lifelines to small businesses across Ceredigion.”

Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson, Ben Lake MP said: “Hundreds of jobs in pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants across Ceredigion are at risk this Spring, when several support programmes are due to come to an end. 4,500 people in Ceredigion are employed in the hospitality sector – that’s around 16% of total employment. A failure to support hospitality on 3 March will not only deal a blow to the sector but also to the wider Ceredigion economy.

“We in Plaid Cymru are therefore calling for an extension of the furlough scheme for as long as Welsh Government restrictions require it. We are also calling on the Chancellor to extend the lowered rate of VAT for hospitality and tourism for a year to March 2022. Firms must be given the chance to get back on their feet, and should therefore benefit from at least one summer earnings season and return to profitability.

“The economic impact is likely to be felt for years to come, with businesses facing mounting debt and taxes. I therefore urge the Chancellor to set out a sustainable repayment programme for hospitality businesses, to allow staggered payments over a period of time, rather than as lump payments.

“The pandemic has been a nightmare for most businesses – but the end is in sight. We cannot afford to throw away successes by prematurely ending much-needed financial lifelines to small businesses across Ceredigion.”