British Marine recognises that COVID-19 has had a profound impact on its members. We lobbied the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations to provide further support for waterway businesses and we are pleased that boating can resume in all parts of the UK.
The most recent announcement from the Prime Minister is a welcome addition for the leisure marine sector in England. It means that overnight stays on boats, including those used for private and hire, will be permitted from 4 July. We are seeking clarification on the operation of passenger boats and await additional guidance for this sector. The Government has published additional guidance for the visitor economy to help tourism businesses resume activity and operate from 4 July.
Throughout the pandemic, we have been in contact with over 50 political representatives setting out our key policy asks and recommendations. We have also engaged with Ministers, submitted evidence to Select Committees and encouraged our members to add their voice to the lobbying effort. The team also created a series of working groups and liaised with officials to set out how commercial boating could resume earlier than expected.
You can find more information on our lobbying activity below.
The information on this webpage is provided as general guidance. Although British Marine tries to ensure that all of the information is accurate and up to date, this cannot be guaranteed owing to the very fast moving situation. Members should review the Government’s full guidance themselves by following the links in this webpage and should keep up to date with the Government’s latest announcements. The information on this webpage should not be construed as constituting professional advice and we would always advise that members consider seeking appropriate professional advice before taking or refraining from taking any action.
Fiscal package for marine businesses which do not pay business rates
Since the support measures were announced we have been clear that many of our member businesses operate from a commercial mooring and do not pay businesses rates. We were also clear that many hire companies operate on narrow profit margins and are not in a position to take on further debt or loans.
British Marine was pleased that the UK Government listened to these concerns and those of other business groups and introduced a series of discretionary grants for businesses which were ineligible for the Retail, Leisure, and Hospitality grants.
Fiscal package to cover the annual cost of mooring and license fees
We worked closely with the navigation authorities throughout the pandemic and supplied information to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs setting out how the support measures could be extended to benefit more our members.
We called for a fiscal package worth £20 million to cover the annual cost of mooring and license fees for our members in the boating tourism industry. We also lobbied the UK Government to allow the day and holiday hire sectors to be among the first to return to commercial activity, in accordance with the social distancing guidelines. We are therefore pleased that the day hire sector is allowed to resume and the holiday hire sector will shortly be able to do so, from 4 July.
Furlough extension for seasonal businesses and VAT reduction
We recommend the UK Government revisits its decision to require all businesses to contribute towards the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and gives special consideration to seasonal businesses. We have suggested that the furlough scheme is extended for seasonal businesses until April 2021.
We also believe the UK Government should consider temporarily reducing the rate of VAT as they did in 2008 following the global financial crash, to stimulate demand across the marine sector and other industries.
Extending the business rates holiday beyond the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors
We recommended an extended business rates holiday for business who, in particular, have been forced to furlough staff.
Support for the so called forgotten middle
British Marine wrote to the Business Secretary and other senior politicians to make the case for more support for businesses which were ineligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
We therefore welcomed the UK Government’s decision to introduce a new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan scheme to support those businesses which were too large to apply for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme but were equally too small for the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility.