February 2021: News from your local MP Thangam Debbonaire
Support for Bristol’s hospitality
The UK’s hospitality industry has never had it so tough - and Bristol is more dependent on these businesses than many other parts of the country. Lively restaurants, bars, music venues make our city a great place to live – and employ a lot of people too.
Throughout the crisis I’ve been in touch with businesspeople, campaign groups, Bristol City Council, government Ministers and colleagues in the Labour Party to ensure that I am doing everything I can to support businesses in the hospitality and nightlife sector. Nationally, the hospitality industry is the third largest UK employer – responsible for about 3 million jobs, generates £130 billion in activity.
Managers in these businesses have told me how the move to Tier 2 meant they stocked up before the sudden move to a national lockdown a week later – resulting in a lot of wasted produce. They tell me new small business grants aren’t enough – I know that only a small minority of businesses will be receiving the full £9,000, and even that is lower than what was offered in March and insufficient to cover fixed costs with no income. All this should concern anyone looking forward to going out in Bristol again.
Before Covid, most of these businesses were thriving. 2019 was a great year but 2020 was the worst that it has ever been. Please contact me if you run a hospitality business and think there’s anything I can do to help or want me to know about the impact of the crisis.
Children without laptops risk being left behind
Schools have also been in turmoil, with dedicated staff preparing during the holidays for a return to school with mass testing and then a sudden switch to national lockdown. Our wonderful teachers are making the best of online learning but we are all concerned about children who are not able to work effectively from home.
I’m doing everything I can to help children and young people get the kit and connections they need immediately. I am in regular contact with schools and some tell me that changing government rules last year left them with insufficient equipment for this lockdown.
Schools are still open for some children and must be top priority for full re-opening when safe. I'll push the government to work with schools, headteachers, support staff and trade unions and consider prioritising school staff for vaccination.
Vaccination – here at last!
Vaccines are the way out of the crisis and now we have two in distribution, starting with the oldest and most vulnerable people and the key NHS and social care workers. I’m in regular touch with the health Ministers and the managers responsible locally. Please respond to your letter to make an appointment when it arrives and let me know of any problems you have. You can also volunteer to help!