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Welcome for leisure sector support but ‘more innovation’ needed

An expert in the leisure and licensing sector has called on the Government to offer more innovative support for the leisure sector or risk thousands of jobs.

Jamie Allison, partner at regional law firm Napthens, welcomed the Chancellor’s recent statement, but said the steps have not gone far enough and questioned how quickly access to funds would bemade available.

The Chancellor has announced £25,000 grants for small businesses which do not have insurance against pandemics and business rates holidays.

Jamie said: “I welcome the Chancellor’s announcements but we also need to see forward-thinking, innovative strategies such as a relaxation of licensing laws so, for example, breweries, restaurants and other venues can sell and deliver direct to consumers.

“Has the Government got the appetite to help fund rent payments, or cancel duty on beer; will it look seriously at VAT and help smaller, independent operators like hotels and breweries?

“These new measures will certainly offer much-needed support, but the question remains of how speedily they are available to those who most need them. We will be interested to see the process and practical steps help on the ground to let businesses access this support.

“Lancashire and Cumbria in particular have so much to offer in terms of leisure and hospitality – but there is still not enough support on offer.”

Jamie added that businesses should be on the front foot with their own planning for coming months, and must take professional advice on everything from planning around staff needing to self-isolate to stop the spread of coronavirus, to looking at their own contracts.

He explained: “Businesses must examine their contractual positions in terms of the agreements which are in place with suppliers and end-users.

“This could help them see any options open to them in terms of being flexible with taking deliveries, perhaps, or changing the nature of their relationship with customers. It’s also more important than ever for the leisure sector to be aware of terms of their licenses if events need to be delayed or if staffing levels are affected.

“Think about the workforce, holidays and salaries and be innovative. Staff will more than likely be willing to work with employers to help businesses through this tough time.”

Real Estate - head of Real Estate - James Allison