Cumbria Tourism has today welcomed the Government’s announcement of additional financial support for Bed and Breakfasts alongside other small hospitality and leisure businesses that have so far been falling through the cracks.

According to the latest information, local authorities are being asked to prioritise businesses that pay Council Tax rather than Business Rates. Additionally, authorities will be given the discretion to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. This will be administered through the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF)

There will be three levels of grant payments, with a maximum of £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000 and authorities will also have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for individual councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances and Cumbria Tourism will be liaising closely with all six of Cumbria’s local authorities to ensure this funding is directed to the businesses which need it the most.

Further details are scheduled to be announced next week but this appears to be a major boost for the hundreds of Bed and Breakfasts and small hospitality businesses across Cumbria which have suffered significantly due to the Coronavirus restriction measures but have so far been unable to access any support.

Responding to today’s news, Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director, Gill Haigh, said: “Since the lockdown began Cumbria Tourism has dealt with over 1500 enquiries from businesses who have seen their livelihoods disappear overnight. Whilst the Chancellor has brought forward a wide range of welcome schemes which are helping many businesses with overheads, we have been deeply distressed by the plight of many of our members whose businesses contribute so hugely to the sector but who have found themselves outside the schemes through no fault of their own.

“This is particularly the case for our Bed and Breakfasts who had previously been advised to pay Council Tax rather than Business Rates. We have been working non-stop to support these businesses, gathering case studies, working with Government, using our influence with our MPs and partners and raising the issue across national, regional and local media and it is immensely encouraging to see this response today.

“We are grateful to our partners such as the Bed and Breakfast Association, the Tourism Alliance and UK Hospitality who have taken up our cause nationally. We await full details but on the face of it this additional funding appears to be the answer we have been fighting for. I can only imagine the relief it will bring to hundreds of businesses.

“We will share further information as soon as it is received.”

Cumbria’s main bus service operator says it is looking forward to working with Cumbria Tourism in the future to play its part in helping the local economy recover from devastating losses suffered as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, Cumbria Tourism announced that by the end of May, the total revenue generated by tourism across Cumbria – supporting 65,000 jobs – is likely to be impacted by a loss of £1.45bn – almost half of the annual income generated by the sector.

When the time is right, hundreds of tourism and hospitality businesses are looking forward to warmly welcoming back visitors to Cumbria, with Cumbria Tourism working to raise awareness of sustainable transport methods in help visitors make the most of the scenery as they travel around the county.

In the meantime, one of the organisation’s Strategic Partners, Stagecoach, is operating a reduced timetable on many routes throughout Cumbria, to help commuters and residents who need make essential trips. Public safety remains a top priority, with all passengers asked to pay by contactless methods where possible, or with the exact amount in coins to avoid unnecessary handling of cash by its drivers.

Further help has also come for older passengers, with the company lifting restrictions on concessionary passes, making them valid for use before 9:30am in line with early supermarket hours for the vulnerable. Social distancing measures are being observed on every service too, with capacity reached at 50% of seats taken on each vehicle. Protective screens provide a physical barrier between passengers and drivers to help prevent transmission, with additional cleaning of key touchpoints also introduced.

Rob Jones, Managing Director of Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire says, “We’re operating a reduced winter service in Lakes at the moment, with the hopes that we can soon welcome back tourists when it is safe to do so and play our part in getting Cumbria back on its feet. We also hope to see increased bus travel in the longer term, helping to improve air quality and giving us a cleaner environment as a result of visitors using their cars less often.

“I am extremely proud of the way in way our team in the Cumbria & North Lancashire is pulling together to ensure that we can continue to deliver our services. They are key workers too and I would like to thank them for their continued support and resilience in these challenging times.”

Personal hand sanitiser has been provided for employees, with larger refill bottles available at depots. One driver comments, “I’m very proud that we’re playing a really big part in the community effort, with bus drivers and healthcare workers, all working together to help us get through this difficult time. The thanks that we’re getting from other key workers across the country is also helping us to get through this.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “Stagecoach has carried out extensive customer communications, reflecting Cumbria Tourism’s vital message asking people only to travel if necessary. Like Stagecoach, we look forward to being able to move ahead in the future and traveling by bus will help us to rebuild the local economy while also looking after the natural environment which makes The Lake District, Cumbria, a world class place to both live and visit.”

A new survey by Cumbria Tourism has found that by the end of next month, the Coronavirus pandemic will have cost the county’s tourism industry £1.45bn in revenue – almost half of tourism-related income for the county for the year.

Laying-bare the devastating effects of Covid-19 on hundreds of tourism businesses in all six of the county’s districts, the survey, sponsored Cumbria Tourism’s Strategic Partners, locally-based chartered accountants and consultancy service Lamont Pridmore, has found that 91% have received cancellations for May, June and July and into August.

The figures also predict an economic impact fall of 48% and a 49% drop in employment supported by tourism: A reduction of 18,459 jobs related to the sector.

According to Cumbria Tourism’s last full year of data, the county’s visitor economy contributed £3bn to the county annually, while supporting 65,000 jobs, equivalent to 26% of Cumbria’s working age population.

Cumbria Tourism’s President, Eric Robson, says, “The impact has been catastrophic for our tourism industry. Just coming out of winter, this crisis has come at the worst possible time when businesses were gearing-up to make money during the traditionally busier spring and summer seasons. That money is what would see them survive the quieter autumn and winter months.

“Even if some businesses can survive in the short term, grants and loans are just covering essential costs, they are not replacing profits. Some businesses will survive for long enough to re-open – but will they manage to get through the following nine or ten months into the 2021 visitor season?

“While nobody expects there to be an immediate bounce-back in terms of visitor numbers when lockdown finally ends, there is likely to be a phased approach to removing lockdown. This, combined with the changes in many households’ financial circumstances and changed visitor behaviour, is likely to compound the problem.”

Cllr David Southward MBE, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Property from Cumbria County Council, says, “It is vital that we work together to safeguard this industry so that it can provide growth and jobs for the county’s economy during the recovery. Never has there been a time when it has been more evident just how much the visitor economy underpins the wider economy. We are committed to working with the tourism industry and Cumbria Tourism to navigate our way through this constantly evolving situation, while working hard to support small businesses which all play a big role in the recovery efforts.”

Cumbria Tourism feeds updates to the government on a daily basis and is relying on the voices of businesses which are feeling the effects of the virus to strengthen the case for further government funding.

In just the last month, Cumbria Tourism has taken more than 1,500 enquiries from businesses seeking advice and information on how to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

More than three weeks into lockdown, tourism businesses across Cumbria are being told the popularity of staycations will “surely rise”, with all businesses being urged to consider how well they are equipped for a possible rise in domestic customers.

Working with several strategic partners, Cumbria Tourism has been able to assist more than 1,000 separate enquiries from businesses seeking clarity on how to manage cashflow and ensure their speediest-possible recoveries.

Cumbria Tourism says their partners’ expertise in their respective sectors means the organisation is armed with the most up to date information and advice for its members. Among those partners is Penrith, Cockermouth and Carlisle-based law firm, Burnetts.

Burnetts Partner and Head of Commercial Property and Planning, Robbie Mather, says, “Yes, the short-term period is going to be tough, but allow yourself some positivity for the medium term. This is what this county has shown on numerous occasions over the past 20 years: The resilience to get back on its feet. While the loneliness and uncertainty are undeniably tough, we want to reassure you that this current climate will not last forever.

“For those that have not yet sought the assistance of the available schemes and initiatives designed to help or discussed the current climate with key advisors and stakeholders, it’s vital that they do so. It has been remarkable how many businesses in this sector have been creative and adapted to the current climate by taking their business to the consumer. We’ve seen this through the use of relaxed planning legislation to permit ‘click and collect’ of meals; virtual tours of attractions and accommodation; and other inventive cyber interactions.

“Now is an unexpected moment in time to re-evaluate business plans and decide how to execute the ideas when lockdown measures are lifted. They must ask, ‘what is unique about our business? Why should a consumer choose us? Try to make use of this downtime, and remember, being creative and adapting in these times will undoubtedly assist going forward. I have already had conversations with clients thinking about how they can extend the season. Think about ways you can diversify and extend your offering. A winter barbeque, anyone?

“What I have seen and heard over the past couple of weeks is that this is the kind of resilience and community spirt which will help see normality return. This ‘time-out’ period will have re-affirmed for many that being able to spend time with their loved ones is the number one priority. What better place to do this than in and around the Lake District?”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, adds, “We are extremely grateful to Burnetts for the advice and support they are offering businesses, such as helpful initiatives relating to the Business Interruption Loan, Job Retention Scheme, rates support and the available grants. By working closely with CT and using their expertise in the sector to work with us to support businesses at this crucial time, we’re in the best possible position to build our recovery.”

Businesses which require any support throughout this period are advised to contact Robbie, on 01228 552222 or email rma@burnetts.co.uk

The COVID-19 pandemic has left hundreds of tourism businesses across all six of Cumbria’s districts scrambling for information about the support available on how to protect cash flow.

Since government measures have resulted in many businesses being closed until further notice, Cumbria Tourism has taken more than 1,000 enquiries from those seeking advice on how to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

In efforts to help, Cumbria Tourism is working with strategic partners, accountants and consultancy firm Lamont Pridmore to highlight the recommended options for business to consider. At the top of the list, a strategy meeting with accountants and/or financial advisers should be arranged, to discuss a delay or deferment of PAYE, NIC, VAT, Corporation Tax and Income Tax payments.

Lamont Pridmore Chief Executive Graham Lamont, says, “HMRC may also agree instalment arrangements, suspension of debt collection proceedings or the cancellation of penalties and interest. Businesses should also arrange bank loan and mortgage repayment holidays of up to three months, while three month HP and lease holidays with asset finance companies should be considered. Small hotels, B&Bs, guest houses and shops are entitled to a business rates holiday, and eligible businesses should be contacted by their local authority to discuss this”.

Eligible businesses in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors with rateable values between £15,001 and £50,999 can also apply for a one-off cash grant of £25,000 via their local authority, with a £10,000 grant also available for those with rateable values of up to £15,000.”

Graham continues, “Businesses need to reduce all other non-essential costs and financial outgoings as quickly as possible, calculate how much money is needed to meet the level of costs and outgoings for the next six months, then amass the resources to meet all outgoings. Eligible businesses can also apply to the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for between £1,000 to £5 million, then gain funds from other sources like credit facilities, bank overdraft, sale of surplus assets or loans from friends or relatives to meet their needs for the next six months.”

If cutting staffing levels is needed, businesses should take advantage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for a grant to reimburse 80% of furloughed workers PAYE costs, capped at £2,500 per month. Alternative options include negotiating hours, salary reductions or unpaid leave, where it is legal to do so. Staff can also be asked to take any outstanding holidays, defer start dates and to consider short-time working, redundancy or lay-off.

“Staff can also be asked to reduce their own personal expenditure including taking a three-month mortgage, rent, HP or leasing scheme holiday”, Graham says. “Company directors can also access support through the CJRS if they pay themselves through PAYE and designate themselves as furloughed. The down-side to this though, is that they won’t be able to carry out their own job, which may well be unfeasible, and it won’t cover dividends or other performance related income.”

The self-employed can access the Coronavirus Self-Employed Income Support Scheme which will pay up to 80 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, if less than £50k per annum, capped at £2,500, to cover at least the three months from March.

Cumbria Tourism feeds updates to the government on a daily basis to strengthen the case for further funding to help affected businesses. More information from Lamont Pridmore is here and you can find Cumbria Tourism’s Coronavirus resource hub here.

Four weeks on since the government announced lockdown measures across the UK, Cumbria Tourism is continuing to support affected businesses thanks to vital help from its strategic partners, which represent all aspects of the tourism sector.

Coronavirus has left hundreds of businesses reeling from the impact of Covid-19 with the organisation taking around 1,500 enquiries so far from those seeking advice on how to mitigate the pandemic’s effects.

Among those partners is Cumbrian-based Solicitors Thomson Hayton Winkley, which says issues surrounding tenants struggling to pay their rent are one of their most common enquiries.

Director of Thomson Hayton Winkley, John Cooke, says, “One of the government announcements which has a bearing on many local businesses relates to tenants of leasehold properties who may be struggling to pay their rent. The Coronavirus Act prevents a landlord from seeking to forfeit a business tenancy, i.e., taking possession, on the grounds of rent arrears for a period of three months.

“The tenant is still legally liable for the rent and the risk of possession may loom large in the future unless they are able to come to some agreement with their landlord in the meantime. Here, flexibility and compromise are the key.

“The contractual situation between parties is something that we have also been asked to advise on: Has their contract with customers, guests or suppliers been ‘frustrated’ by the pandemic or does it contain what is known a ‘force majeure’ clause which could alter the contractual obligations? That said, sometimes enforcement of the strict legal position may not be the best option, and many businesses are being flexible and working with others to find an amicable solution to potential disputes.  Again, keeping goodwill is vital for future relations and avoiding potentially bad publicity.

“Once things get back to ‘normal’, I suspect that lots of legal issues will come to the surface and there is a risk of conflict between people whose legal interests have been affected by coronavirus. Trying to reach the best solutions will involve those watchwords of flexibility and compromise, and dare I say, an element of the goodwill and kindness which has emerged during the crisis.

“We are still open for business even though our doors may be locked for now. Rather than putting up our shutters during the lockdown, we have found that the best thing we can do is just to keep in touch with our clients and do business as usual as well as we can. This means that we have been able to help with a wide range of coronavirus queries that have come in from Cumbria Tourism members and existing clients, as well as continuing to deal with routine matters that are still ongoing.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “This is yet another example of the amazing support being shown to our local businesses. Recovery is likely to be a gradual process for everyone in the hospitality and leisure sector, but many can take great comfort in the help being offered by our partners like Thomson Hayton Winkley.”

Cumbria Tourism members can contact Thomson Hayton Winkley for advice under the Member Helpline, by emailing suzie.fisher@thwlegal.co.uk

Now five working weeks since the government announced lockdown measures across the UK, Cumbria Tourism is continuing to support affected businesses with vital help from its strategic partners, representing all aspects of the tourism sector.

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to bite, Cumbria Tourism and its partners have been offering continual support, including mortgage holidays being given to around 900 commercial businesses in the hospitality and holiday let sector, by The Cumberland Building Society.

While Cumbria Tourism welcomes government support such as the furloughing scheme, concern remains for businesses which may be able to survive in the short term, but whose grants and loans are just covering essential costs, and not replacing profits.

Cumbria Tourism says those concerns reinforce the need for Strategic Partners to continue to work closely with the organisation, enabling them to best understand how more businesses can be assisted.

Announcing further support this week, Simon Whitwham, Head of Commercial for The Cumberland, says, “We have deferred and waived business current account charges as part of a wider package of support for business customers and have already agreed payment holidays for over 900 of our commercial mortgage holders, accounting for over £250 million of mortgages across the hospitality, tourism and holiday let sectors.

“Business current account customers will have their monthly and transactional fees from January to March 2020 deferred for three months, and monthly fees for April to June 2020 will be waived, although transactional fees will stand.

“We worked flat-out to ensure we could help businesses before they were due to make payments at the end of March, re-organising our teams to focus on helping businesses as soon as coronavirus began to send shockwaves through the sector. The Government is doing a lot to help with small business rate relief, furloughing staff and other measures, but income has been wiped out.”

The Cumberland’s chief executive, Des Moore, says: “One of our top priorities during this crisis is to ensure we are supporting our customers who are facing financial difficulties. The business support package we have announced should help provide some breathing space for our customers, and our team will continue to work with them to provide whatever support we can during this unprecedented period.”

Further information can be found at The Cumberland here and Cumbria Tourism here.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “Yet again, we see another example of the great work being done by our Strategic Partners to aid the economic recovery. While it will be a gradual process for everyone in the hospitality and leisure sector, businesses can continue to take comfort in the help being offered by our partners like The Cumberland Building Society.”

For the first time, the Lakeland Book of the Year will be celebrating the fantastic array of writing inspired by Cumbria and the Lake District virtually, as organisers vow not to let Coronavirus halt the 36-year-old event.

68 books, all published in 2019, have been whittled down to a 24-strong longlist by judges Hunter Davies OBE, Cumbria Tourism President Eric Robson and broadcaster Fiona Armstrong. These three judges now have the unenviable task of selecting the shortlist, six category winners and overall Lakeland Book of the Year 2020 before the official announcement is made on 30 June.

Open to any book published in 2019 set in or featuring Cumbria in some way, this year’s entrants have once again highlighted the huge range of inspiration the region generates for both new and well-established authors.

“Every year I’m completely blown away by the staggering number of high-quality novels, histories, guides and poems entered” says Cumbria Tourism MD Gill Haigh, which supports and administers the annual competition. “2020 is an extra-special year for celebrating the Lakes’ literary heritage – originally the awards ceremony in June would have been a key part of Wordsworth 250 – a quarter of a millennium since the birth of Lakeland’s most noted writer. Unfortunately Coronavirus has meant that we can’t celebrate in the usual way but I’m very proud they are continuing in these difficult times. We know many people have planned breaks to Cumbria which have now been postponed or cancelled and we can’t wait to welcome tourists back as soon as it is safe to travel again. In the meantime, if anybody is looking for a good book to transport them to our county there’s a fantastic to selection from which to choose!”

Awards founder and judge Hunter Davies added “I am so pleased the annual Lakeland Book of the Year Awards is still going ahead, despite these trying times.  After all, we have managed for 36 years so far and we all hope it will go on forever – the only regional book prize in the whole of the UK.  It would have been so bitterly disappointing for those 68 authors who have submitted their books this year if the judging had not gone ahead.  For many of them, this is the first book they have ever written, working on it for many years, the culmination of years of study and passion and knowledge of a particular aspect of Cumbrian life, past or present.

“It is a shame that our grand lunch won’t take place this summer, the literary highlight of Lakeland life, but the judging will go on and their hard work will be recognised.  I don’t know about my fellow judges, Fiona and Eric, but thanks to self-isolating, I find so far I am reading the books even more attentively than usual, spinning out the pleasure.  They are my treats, my pudding, for the long days, with so little else happening.  I am lucky to have them.  And so is Cumbria… “

The awards, one of the most prestigious of their kind outside London, are kindly supported by the Cumbria Community Foundation Hunter Davies Fund, Striding Edge, the Bill Rollinson Award Association and Latitude Press Ltd. All sponsors are committed to recognising and supporting writing inspired by Cumbria’s landscape, heritage and people. Following shortlisting, the six category winners and overall 2020 Lakeland Book of the Year winner will be announced at www.lakelandbookoftheyear.co.uk on 30 June, with the news shared by @lakesbookawards on Twitter and Cumbria Tourism’s Facebook page. 2020 also marks a brand-new children’s poetry prize in celebration of William Wordsworth, and judged Michael McGregor, Director at The Wordsworth Trust and Ian Walker, Deputy Head at John Ruskin School.

Lakeland Book of the Year 2020 Longlist

  • Black Summer by M.W. Craven
  • Bob’s Jottings by Bob Jopling
  • The Cumberland Bard: Robert Anderson by Sue Allan
  • Cumbria at War by Ruth Mansergh
  • Embellish with Relish by Maria Whitehead
  • Grasmere: A History in 55½ Buildings by Grasmere History Group
  • Hows and Knotts: A Guide to Lakeland Views by Guy Richardson
  • I Hate the Lake District by Charlie Gere
  • Knockupworth – The Story of a Family by John Bainbridge
  • Lake District Bouldering by Greg Chapman
  • The Lake District in 101 Maps & Infographics by David Felton
  • The Lake District Survival Guide by Ian Young
  • The Magpie’s Nest by Taffy Thomas
  • Mountain Man: 446 mountains. Six months. One record-breaking adventure by James Forrest
  • My Dad’s Army: The White Gurkhas by Ian Wilson
  • Out of the Deep by Ruth Sutton
  • A Pennington Pepys (Extracts from The Commonplace & Diaries of William Fleming) by John Graeme Livingstone
  • A Peopled Landscape by Stephen Matthews
  • Rose by Sally Dalglish
  • Secrets of the Flock by J.B. Browne
  • Slightly Perfect by John Cunliffe
  • Two Days in May by David Clemson
  • The Understanding by Roger Dobson
  • Who Was Ann Gregg? By David Cooper-Holmes

Cumbria Tourism has been announced as the county’s official ‘portal’ to help coordinate accommodation for NHS staff who need an alternative place to stay while working on the front line to help people affected by Covid-19.

In recent days, Cumbria’s official destination management organisation has been working with Cumbria County Council to assist with coordinating key worker accommodation; A scheme deemed so successful, it has now been declared an official arrangement which will remain in place as long as necessary.

Cumbria Tourism would like to remind local residents that they may see unfamiliar faces in their communities in the coming weeks and months as accommodation providers offer them somewhere to stay for the purposes of social distancing from their own loved-ones while working to save lives.

Earlier this month, Cumbria Tourism launched a call for hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs and self-catering property businesses to offer their accommodation, with more than 30 accommodation providers coming forward to offer their assistance so far. Many requests for accommodation have come in from key workers themselves, as well as those who have volunteered to enter the key worker sector from other lines of work.

Cumbria Tourism also suggested key workers should be provided with a notice to display in their vehicles, to ensure they are not wrongly assumed by members of local communities to be holidaymakers. The Lake District National Park Authority has confirmed it will suggest the NHS implements such a scheme.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “We’re pleased to have been invited to play this critical support role in the fight against Coronavirus. Our key workers such as those in the NHS are risking their lives to help others, and it’s been heartening to see so many of our members offering their help in this way. We already have a direct link with hundreds of accommodation providers, making the process of linking-up workers with a place to stay very straightforward and efficient.

“While we are working with police and our other partners to vehemently oppose leisure visitors, but at the same time, we do ask that residents remember that many people in holiday accommodation are far more likely to be key workers than tourists, and should be treated with the respect, gratitude and warmth they deserve”.

A Cumbria County Council spokesperson said, “The county council is working alongside a range of partners to understand the demand for accommodation and is supporting Cumbria Tourism to identify and match suitable accommodation to those who need it.”

Lesley Hornsby, owner of No 43 B&B in Arnside, is one of many to have offered her property to key workers to help them carry on working to keep the public safe and is keen to let them know that they have her full support.

Lesley says, “Here in Arnside, we’ve seen amazing community spirit. We have the Arnside volunteer group and so many businesses making sure everyone gets the supplies they need, none of us even need to leave the village. This group has 500 members with great good-will, which I really wanted to extend to our key workers. Arnside is such an idyllic village in stunning location I thought it would be so lovely if key workers were able to enjoy the tranquillity during their precious and well-deserved time off, when between their long shifts”.

Key workers requiring accommodation, or providers who can offer somewhere to stay can register their interest here.