No business support currently planned during local lockdown
Business, News | Gareth Axenderrie | Published: 18:05, Tuesday September 8th, 2020.
Last updated: 22:09, Tuesday September 8th, 2020
The Welsh Government has confirmed there is no plan in place to provide additional support to businesses impacted by the local lockdown.
While none have been told to close under the new measure, many businesses face a substantial drop in income as visits from outside of the county will be prohibited from 6pm on Tuesday, September 8.
Accommodation providers and businesses reliant on tourism are expected to be hit especially hard.
When asked by Caerphilly Observer whether there is any plan in place for business support, Health Minister Vaughan Gething said although any form of restriction will have an impact on the way businesses are able to operate, his role is to protect people’s lives and wellbeing.
Speaking at the Welsh Government’s press briefing, Mr Gething continued: “We regularly review the support we are able to provide across the country and local areas.
“I do not have a package of individual support to announce for individual businesses, I am not going to make one up on the spot.
“I think it is really important to be clear about the reason that underpins the measures we have had to take in the Caerphilly area, with a rising tide of infection, with a breakdown in social distancing, and people not following the rules that used to exist.
“If people want to have a different future where businesses can operate as they still do in the rest of Wales, it is even more important that people follow the rules.”
Several businesses believe the decision not to provide financial support is passing responsibility onto the public.
They have also questioned whether the new restrictions are punishing the majority of people for the actions of a select few, while not considering the consequences a lockdown will have.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has echoed these concerns and called on both the Welsh Government and the council to listen to the anxieties of businesses in the area.
Ben Francis, Policy Chair for FSB Wales, said: “The local lockdown in Caerphilly will no doubt be causing a lot of anxiety and uncertainty for businesses in the area, many of whom have only very recently reopened after months of closure due to the pandemic.
“The most recent events will pose many questions for these businesses and it is vital that Welsh Government and Caerphilly County Borough Council provide the clarity that firms need moving forward and listen to business concerns as this lockdown progresses.
“Some weeks ago FSB Wales wrote to the First Minister outlining a suggested plan to be used in the event of a local lockdown in Wales. This included a Rapid Reaction Business Fund designed to provide support to those firms most affected by a lockdown. It will soon become clear how businesses are being affected and what support is required.
“FSB is working closely with businesses, the local authority and Welsh Government, and will monitor the situation closely in the coming days. We will be working to ensure that businesses receive all adequate support as this situation unfolds.”
‘£8,500’ lost in cancelled bookings
Under the Oak Glamping in Bedwas are set to lose £8,500 in cancelled bookings over the next two weeks, with all their customers coming from outside the area.
Lydia Watts, who owns the site, said: “There has been no industry specific guidance and any bookings for the next two weeks have been cancelled with a full refund.
“Beyond two weeks, we have told customers to hold on and wait, but we have had no guidance at all from Welsh Government, the council or Visit Wales.
“September was due to be as busy as August as we were fully booked. This was really important as we missed so much of the first half of the season.”
Lydia is also critical of the decision to place new travel restrictions on the county, even though the cause of new cases has been blamed on people not socially distancing in households locally.
“Obviously the vast majority of people in this community have behaved well throughout this pandemic and will continue to do so. I fear those who haven’t will not care about the impact on local businesses, however.
“It makes no sense. If it is about close contact, then address that, but the wider travel restrictions make no sense. Somebody could travel from London, stay here and have no contact with anybody locally whatsoever.
“We have been supportive of the guidelines and restriction that we have had so far, the travelling in and out of the county however seems nonsensical and doesn’t address the cause of the issue.
“It impacts us disproportionately. We may be able to take a painful hit for two weeks, but if this goes on, we don’t know how we will be able to get through the winter.”
Responding to a follow up question on business support, Mr Gething said conversations will continue with Caerphilly council and businesses, but that there is a limit to the economic firepower the Welsh Government has.
Stay informed with quality, independent, local journalism…that matters For the last ten years, Caerphilly Observer has provided an award-winning, balanced, and independent news service to the people of Caerphilly County Borough.
We believe the public should be informed about their community, coherently and with context. However, running a professional news service comes at a financial cost.
We are asking readers for their support to help us develop and grow our service.
Our membership costs from just £3 a month and in return, you can use our website without adverts.