The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has failed to support an advice note issued by the Local Government Association (LGA) which stated that operators of coaches should be eligible to access the coronavirus COVID-19 support package for leisure sector businesses.
MHCLG’s refusal to recognise coaching as part of the leisure sector means that coach operators in England will not be able to access the business rates relief and grants that have been made available through the support scheme. LGA has now withdrawn the note from its website.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has expressed its disappointment at MHCLG’s stance. CPT is lobbying the government to change its approach and has already raised the issue with Baroness Vere asking for her assistance in overturning the decision.
Coaches were not explicitly mentioned in government guidance on the package of support for leisure sector businesses, but LGA took the view that the industry was one of several that should be included.
To help CPT’s efforts, it has prepared a letter template for operators to adapt and send to their MP calling for their support in changing MHCLG’s approach. It is available to download from CPT’s website.
The letter describes the view adopted by MHCLG as “puzzling and disappointing”, noting that it is particularly so as MHCLG was aware of the LGA advice note’s contents before it was published.
The text notes that the Ministry’s position appears to focus on the definition of leisure as being something that is location based, “and not recognising the significant number of businesses that are central to the leisure industry but which are not destinations in themselves.”
The Scottish Government earlier gave an assurance that coaching premises and operator’ depots and offices in Scotland will be classified as part of the leisure sector. The above does not impact on that approach.