The UK trade association for B&B and guest house owners

To: MP

Our Ref:

Dear Member of Parliament,
Thousands of small B&Bs need your help

Over 10,000 B&Bs across Britain (including 51% of our members) pay Council Tax rather than Business Rates, and on this 'technicality' are currently denied the Covid-19 grants intended for small hospitality businesses. They are in a desperate situation, with no income, and urgently need the grants which surely were intended for small businesses like them.

We are asking you on behalf of the B&Bs in your constituency and across the country to help by asking the Chancellor to allow the grants to go to genuine small B&B businesses (for whose owners this is their main source of income), even if they happen to pay Council Tax rather than Business Rates.

(In Scotland, the Scottish Government announced some limited £3,000 hardship grant help for Council Tax-paying B&Bs in Scotland on 15th April, but the £10k grant remains available only to those with a Business Rateable Value. Outside Scotland, these B&Bs have no grant help at all.)

The genuine B&B businesses losing out have been dismayed - even outraged - to read reports about second-home owners who have registered for Business Rates to save tax being eligible for the grants for their second homes. Such anomalies add insult to injury. The grants were intended for small hospitality businesses.

The B&Bs paying Council Tax are doing so quite correctly and legally (according to VOA guidance), and have often been advised to do so by their Local Authority or by VOA officials. By paying Council Tax many are paying more than other similar B&Bs on the Business Rates list who are getting full SBRR relief.

Small B&Bs are the cornerstone of the UK's tourism industry and a vital part of the fragile economy of many rural and coastal areas. Britain will need the contribution of its Bed & Breakfast businesses as and when we recover after the Coronavirus crisis. So do help to save them, their owners' livelihoods and their homes.

B&Bs are small individually, but together add up to a big business: 35,575 SMEs turning over (pre-Covid-19) £3.6 billion and providing the livelihood directly for 60,000 people (and many more in their local supply chains).
[ONS figures from 2019]

Parliamentary Petition:
There is a Parliamentary petition on this issue, which at the time of writing has already gathered over 15,000 signatures. You can see how many have signed it in your own costituency by clicking here.

There is also another petition on started by our member Gill Craddock, which has already garnered over 6,000 signatures.

The issue has been covered in the Yorkshire Post (" Thousands of B&Bs fear ruin after missing out on Government grant scheme") and the Daily Telegraph (" Up to 10,000 small B&Bs at risk of collapse") recently.

There is a growing groundswell of strong opinion on this on social media and probably in the local press in your area. You can get a good idea of the feeling and opinions on this by reading our twitter feed for the last week or two.

We have been pressing the Government since 23 March (five weeks on Monday) on this via officials at our sector's department (DCMS) and the Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston - who have been very supportive and helpful - but the compelling case we have put, and which our Minister has championed to the Treasury has, it seems, not persuaded the Chancellor and Treasury officials to date.

I appeal to you to add your weight to this cause and make representations to the Treasury to allow Covid-19 grants to go to genuine B&Bs paying Council Tax as well as those on the Business Rates list.

If you have any queries about this, please do contact me as we'd be happy to help.

We realise only too well that the Chancellor has many much bigger challenges to deal with, but this is a very clear anomaly and can be relatively easily fixed at a relatively low cost in the scheme of things. And we cant afford to see hundreds of Britain's brilliant B&Bs go bust.

Please do keep up to date with this issue and others vital to your B&B constituents by following us on twitter at @BandBassoc (and in Scotland, @ScotBandBassoc).

With many thanks and regards,
DW signature
David Weston
The Bed & Breakfast Association
The UK trade association for B&B, guesthouse & independent hotel owners
Email: | Telephone: 01749 814908