Coach support sought before Christmas
Labour MP, Grahame Morris, talks to Bus and Coach Buyer before heading to the Backbench Business Committee debate later today
Coaches are due to be debated at 3pm today in Parliament.
Heading the debate will be Labour MP for Easington, Grahame Morris, who has spearheaded MP’s push for greater financial support for the sector.
Speaking to Bus and Coach Buyer, Grahame said: “The basic problem is, in the public generally, people do not appreciate the coach sector was the first hit by the pandemic and it’s been hit hard by the restrictions. They have had no work. No taking teams and spectators to sports events, no parties of pensioners on trips, they have all been cancelled. Even now, all pantomime trips have been cancelled.
“There has not been any sector specific support, although other sectors have. The Government has expended £500m on the Eat Out to Help Out initiative and £750m for the volunteering and community sector. It has put large sums of money into the rail industry and buses. Some local authorities have applied and given a relief on business rates, but that is not the case across the country.
“The coach business is a much valued sector and I don’t know if the Government thinks it is essential”
“The coach business is a much valued sector and I don’t know if the Government thinks it is essential. Unless they get some help, then we will see more of them go out of business. In the main, these are businesses that have been built over the decades and provide valuable services. As well as the 41,000 drivers and mechanics, it will affect the supply chain and have a knock-on affect on the hospitality sector unless there is some recognition and immediate help before Christmas.
“As well as the 41,000 drivers and mechanics, it will affect the supply chain and have a knock-on affect on the hospitality sector unless there is some recognition and immediate help before Christmas”
“It’s really a forgotten sector. Operators have personal assurances to secure their leases or to buy. If they do go bust, you will find they will lose their life savings. I think because they have been pigeon-holed as non-essential, I don’t think there is the understanding of the knock-on effects.
“The coach sector was been hit first and the hardest and will be the last to recover. We need some sector specific funding for coaches or they won’t be there. As we emerge in spring, we need a viable coach business. We want Government to recognise this and deliver a support package.”
The backbench Business Committee debate today will provide a chance for the argument for a sector specific support package to be made and will require a Minister to respond.
Grahame will be encouraging MPs to sign an Early Day Motion to help protect jobs and businesses in the coach sector.
He also encourages signing an e-petition aimed at achieving support for coaches.
“I would appeal to your readers to lobby your local MP and raise the issue”
Grahame said: “I would appeal to your readers to lobby your local MP and raise the issue. Get family and friends to sign the e-petition. There is still a lot of work to do to raise the issue with MPs of all parties. There has previously been demonstrations and the Honk for Hope campaign,which was affective in making MPs aware. But it wasn’t without problems for operators.”
How does Grahame see the debate playing out? “Well I don’t have a crystal ball. But it’s in our hands. We need to keep the pressure on the Government. Quite a few MPs have asked about the timing of the debate. This sector is not luxury, it’s not just for leisure purposes. Government has focused o nit getting bits of work for home to school transport. That’s true, but it’s marginal to the overall business. Some coach operators don’t have home to school.”
The debate comes after it was announced Scottish operators will receive a share of £6m funding to help survive the effects of the pandemic.
It was announced in October that Northern Irish operators would benefit from sector specific support.