North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak asking him to agree a sector-specific funding deal for the coach industry. He took the step after becoming aware of the Honk for Hope protest in London on 20 July and following engagement with operators in his constituency.
Mr Baker’s letter, which is copied to Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps and was sent on Monday 27 July, represents further pressure on the government to back coaching if a major collapse in the industry is to be avoided.
Mr Baker is one of several MPs who have spoken up and asked for funding for the coach industry. He points out that coaching is “in a precarious position” compared to many other sectors. The MP adds that expensive fleet upgrades to satisfy government policies relating to emissions and PSVAR have compounded the industry’s struggle.
“One of my constituents, Marett’s Chariots, which would normally expect to take £1m between March and December, is predicting a total income [over that period] of just £80,000,” Mr Baker adds. “A drop of 90%. I gather this is repeated throughout the sector.”
Marett’s Chariots Managing Director Anthony Marett first contacted Mr Baker in April regarding grant funding schemes, which the MP assisted with. Mr Baker subsequently spoke to Mr Marett about Honk for Hope.
In his letter to Mr Sunak, Mr Baker references forecasts generated by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) that predict a devastating effect on the coach industry if no government aid is forthcoming.
“Much like the arts and culture sector, without sector-specific support I am concerned that we will see serious bankruptcies in the near future. I urge you to look at [coaching] again.”
CPT recently presented further proposals for support for the industry to the government. They came after Transport Secretary Baroness Vere rejected CPT’s earlier submission in a meeting on 15 July.
A copy of the letter to Mr Sunak is available on Mr Baker’s Facebook page.