THE body representing the local hospitality trade has repeated its calls for more government aid after the Daily Echo raised the issue with a cabinet minister.

At Downing Street’s daily briefing, the Echo asked transport secretary Grant Shapps what further help could be targeted at struggling businesses in the sector.

Mr Shapps responded by saying that 819,000 businesses had benefited from more than £10billion in government aid, including a dedicated Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Fund.

But Tim Seward, chair of the industry body BH Area Hospitality Association, said hoteliers were waiting for official guidance so they could prepare to reopen.

“It was also mentioned in the response that many hotels and small businesses had been supported. For those hotels with a rateable value over £51,000, they have seen no funding,” he said.

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He urged people to support the Raise the Bar campaign, which wants help to be available for businesses with a rateable value up to £150,000.

Mr Seward added: “BH Area Hospitality Association are in constant communication with Hotel Associations from across Central South including Southampton, Portsmouth, Weymouth and the New Forest and are lobbying MPs in these areas for clarity, guidance and further information.”

Mr Shapps also said it was impossible to know when people might be able to travel for tourism within the UK.

“We can’t answer that until we know the path of the virus but we have stood behind companies and towns like Bournemouth,” he said.

“We intend to carry on doing so but the best way we can all do that is to defeat the virus by following the rules.”