North Wales MS Mark Isherwood has called on the Welsh Government to support holiday let businesses in North Wales which have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Isherwood raised the matter when taking part in yesterday’s virtual Welsh Parliament meeting.
Responding the Statement by the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates MS, on the Welsh Government’s Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19), Mr Isherwood said he has been contacted by several holiday let business owners in North Wales who are worried for their future because of the Welsh Government’s revised criteria for supporting them during the pandemic.
Speaking via ‘Zoom’ from his home in North Wales, he said:
“Many North Wales holiday let businesses contacted me when the Welsh Government announced revised criteria for Business Support Grants, but only for them. One said that for many farmers, holiday lets represent an essential part of their income; the process is dreadfully stalled, causing great distress for my constituents.
“Another asked, ‘How many self-catering businesses have to go bust before we get the help we were promised?’ Another said, ‘They’re penalising genuine businesses. Ken Skates said that if you ran a successful business in 2019, then your business will be successful in 2020. I believed him and hope he will keep to his word.’ So, how will you keep to you word?”
Responding, the Minister said: “With regard to those businesses that operate small holiday lets, I’d just like to remind Mark that the Economic Resilience Fund (ERF) in Wales is a fund that is not available in England, and farmers who have diversified can apply to the ERF. We are looking at how the next phase of the Economic Resilience Fund can continue to plug gaps and it’s absolutely vital that local authorities are given some discretion in terms of how they can support businesses.”
Mr. Isherwood added: “Comments on the Minister’s response since received from holiday let businesses include: ‘it didn’t address the issue at all for the rest of us who are affected by this’, The ERF is closed! Someone should tell Mr. Skates to turn the sign round!’ and ‘Saying that Wales are doing something that nobody else is is simply not relevant. Wales promised something, then changed the rules half way through. That is the issue’. As others have told me: ‘This seems grossly unfair as no other people applying for the grant need show that the majority of their income is derived from the business’ and ‘The guidance from the Welsh Government is not only unfair but clearly discriminates against holiday letting businesses’.”