A Tory Senedd candidate has voiced “concerns” about companies being “named and shamed” for breaking Covid-19 regulations.
Amanda Jenner, who is standing for the party in Ceredigion, raised the issue following a meeting with hospitality businesses from mid and west Wales, which she says are facing a crisis.
According to Jenner, the regulations are “unclear” and “often enforced at the last minute”. She also suggested that enforcement by the authorities is “heavy-handed”.
The candidate has written a letter to Ken Skates, the Minister for Economy and Transport, which said there needs to be urgent action from the Welsh Government to support the hospitality sector.
The Welsh Government has said that it has “stood squarely behind businesses throughout this crisis” and it has made available “the most generous package of support anywhere in the UK”.
The meeting was attended by a variety of businesses who voiced concerns and fed back their experiences from over the last year. Attending the meeting was also Simon Baynes MP, the UK Government Ambassador for Small Businesses in Wales.
Amanda Jenner said: “During our meeting, a number of businesses raised concerns about the lack of engagement with the sector from Welsh Government.
“Also raised was the issue of heavy-handed enforcement of Covid regulations and concerns voiced about businesses being named and shamed publicly.”
‘Tone for enforcement’
She added: “I have written to Ken Skates to ask him to consider three key points, which include meaningful engagement with the sector, a change in tone for enforcement and a review of the way financial business support is administered.
“Many rural businesses are doing their best to comply with unclear regulations, often enforced at the last minute.
“I believe a change of tone is needed so that they are led through the process and given proactive advice. However, local authorities need to be given the appropriate resources and financial support in order to ensure this happens.
“We also heard from businesses who had struggled to get appropriate financial support, giving examples of inconsistencies across Wales, unclear guidance and a lack of help from either their local authority or Business Wales.
“I have written to the Welsh Government Minister highlighting this and calling for some specific improvements in this regard.
“The Welsh Government needs to go the extra mile to assist hospitality businesses. Mid and west Wales might be a long way from Cardiff, but our economy matters too and local businesses needed to be treated with the respect they deserve.”
A spokesperson for Ken Skates said: “The Welsh Labour Government has stood squarely behind businesses throughout this crisis, including in the hospitality sector. We’ve made available more than £2bn to businesses across the country – the most generous package of support anywhere in the UK – and regularly engaged with firms small and large throughout the pandemic.
“Our support has already helped protect more than 141,000 jobs and we will go on helping individuals and businesses that need it at this crucially important time.”