MP hears business concerns at online meeting of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce

East Devon MP Simon Jupp Picture: London Portrait Photographer DAV

East Devon MP Simon Jupp Picture: London Portrait Photographer DAV - Credit: Archant

Restrictions on coronavirus furlough payments and a delay in releasing tourism investment money were among the issues discussed at an online meeting of the Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber normally meets for breakfast on the first Wednesday of every month at the Kingswood and Devoran Hotel.

Because of the coronavirus lockdown, this month’s meeting was conducted via Zoom, with members participating on video chats from their homes.

They were joined online by the East Devon MP Simon Jupp, who was invited to hear local concerns and respond to questions submitted in advance by the chamber.

These included the furlough cut-off date, and the refusal of insurance companies to pay out for business interruption claims resulting from the coronavirus lockdown.

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Mr Jupp said he personally thought the restrictions on furlough payments are unfair.

Anyone who started their job after February 28 is unable to claim the 80 per cent of their salary being paid by the Government if they cannot carry out their jobs because of the lockdown.

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Mr Jupp said: “I believe everyone who has started a new job should have the same access to the same Government support as everyone else.”

He said he and many other MPs had made representations to treasury officials and junior ministers on the issue, but added ‘I’m not getting anything to suggest that the policy will change’.

On the issue of insurance, he said he had received a ‘rather disappointing’ response from the Association of British Insurers, which said in most cases the standard business interruption cover does not include forced closure by the authorities.

“For me as the MP it does raise some serious questions about the insurance industry as a whole, which I’m discussing with other MPs,” he said.

“There’s a product here that we’re all paying for and I have significant concerns about that, which I’ve raised with the treasury and other officials.”

The chamber also raised the issue of East Devon District Council’s delay in releasing £330,000 earmarked for investment to promote tourism in Sidmouth.

The money was part of the Section 106 payment made to the council by the developer of the former Fortfield Hotel, and was promised to Sidmouth more than five years ago.

Mr Jupp said he would contact the chief executive of East Devon District Council, Mark Williams, on that issue.

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