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 TT Compensation package under criticism

David CretneyThe compensation package for businesses hit by the threat of foot-and-mouth received criticism despite being passed unanimously by Tynwald. It will provide financial support for tourism-related businesses directly affected by disease-linked restrictions and those who have suffered as a result of both the TT and Manx Grand Prix cancellations.

The Island has remained foot-and-mouth free but government's moves to minimise the risk have proved costly for tourism. Edgar Mann, MLC, supported the package but said: 'I don't understand the principle that the more you lose the less compensation you receive.' Mr Cretney outlined what businesses will receive if they are judged to be eligible. l For the initial £500 loss there'll be no compensation l

Businesses will receive the entire sum they've lost between £501 and £7,500 l For the next £2,500, businesses will receive half the sum l Between £10,001 and £57,000 businesses will receive a quarter of the sum l For losses of £57,000 or above businesses will receive a flat rate of £20,000. For example, a business that has lost £15,000 will receive £9,500 compensation.

It is this system of compensation Dr Mann feels is unfair. He said: 'The risk is universal whether the business is small or large. 'I don't think this package is going to be the answer and come the winter there will have to be a better scheme than this.' The package also came under fire from Brenda Cannell (APG, Douglas East) who believes it doesn't go far enough. She said: 'I believe the impact on the tourism industry from foot-and-mouth is going to last two or three years. 'I would like to see the Treasury being a little more generous than this.' But Mr Cretney said: 'Businesses do not want to rely on these schemes but the more stability they get the better. I accept that as things move along we will have to look again. 'I hope that's not the case but we have demonstrated a desire to help the industry promptly.'

Businesses will have to prove they have suffered 'severe and lasting' damage and those ineligible include government bodies, local authorities, charities, religious bodies, other non-profit making organisations, public limited companies, farming businesses and those companies with an annual turnover of more than £750,000. Around 60 businesses have so far written in to claim loss of earnings as a result of the TT's cancellation but there's still time to claim.

Accommodation providers are being compensated separately on an amount per empty bed basis. Mr Cretney said: 'I believe that overall, the government has responded in a positive and speedy manner to the impact of foot-and-mouth, with significant new resources being made available to assist local businesses over what can only be described for some as an extremely difficult period.

'This is in stark contrast to what is happening elsewhere and is a clear recognition of the importance of the tourist industry. 'The scheme is intended to provide prompt assistance to businesses in the tourist and leisure industries which have experienced severe difficulties during the current period, while also extending to the MGP.'

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