Why B&B owners must be given Government help – The Yorkshire Post says

LIKE the rest of this county, Yorkshire’s bed and breakfast owners acknowledge the invidiousness of Rishi Sunak’s position as the Chancellor takes emergency action to support the economy.

Fiona Gardham is the owner of Eighteen 97 B&B at Goathland. She is now having to apply for Universal Credit.

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Yet The Yorkshire Post hopes that the Government will look sympathetically at the specific difficulties facing B&B proprietors which appear to have been overlooked in efforts, thus far, to support businesses.

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As this newspaper has previously reported, they do not, at present, qualify for funding via Mr Sunak’s schemes to support small firms because they’re residential properties which pay council tax – and not business rates – to their local authority.

Fiona Gardham says the coronavirus pandemic has been a challenging experience. “It is a shock. Our sense of pride at being able to get through things and being self-sufficient is taken away. It is not a nice feeling.”

A simple tweak to this criteria might mean the difference between many of Britain’s 35,000 B&B owners, the lifeblood of the tourism industry, staying open or not.

Some are applying for Universal Credit with these businesses further disadvantaged by the fact that they have commercial mortgages and are not immediately entitled to the three-month deferral scheme that Mr Sunak has, rightly, put in place for residential owners.

Yet, as Welcome to Yorkshire is tasked with proving itself as an effective lobbying organisation under its new leadership, perhaps Mr Sunak – whose Richmond constituency includes scores of B&B establishments – will recognise this sector’s wider plight.

Guest house owners operate on very fine margins and a prolonged lockdown, and lingering health fears, mean that many face months without bookings to offset building costs – starting with Easter when they would have been expected to be full.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

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Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson

Editor