Abta will consider legal action in its battle for higher restart grants for travel agents if the government does not respond favourably to its latest plea for specific and extended financial aid.
The association said it was in talks with specialist solicitors having already written to government about the issue as part of its response to the Global Travel Taskforce report.
Abta said: “We are hoping for a positive response but, if not, we will review all possible options open to us in the interests of our members. This will include the potential for a legal challenge, about which we are in discussions with specialist solicitors.”
Agents are classed as non-essential retailers in Strand One, which entitles them to a one-off grant of between £2,667 and £6,000 from their local authority, while gyms, hairdressers and pubs fall into Strand Two, entitling them to between £8,000 and £18,000 depending on rateable value.
Abta has already “made it clear” to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) that agents should be entitled to the higher grants while scores of agents have independently contacted local councils, which hand out the grants, and MPs to argue their case.
Between 40 and 50 of The Travel Network Group’s members have sent letters to MPs asking them to urge BEIS to update guidance to local councils so agents are in line for the higher grants.
A spokeswoman said: “Lobbying should continue. We are doing this through letters our members are sending to MPs, or our direct letters to BEIS and the chancellor.”
Kelly Cookes, leisure director at the Advantage Travel Partnership said: “There is a lot of frustration [among members] that they are only eligible for the lower level.”
Peter Cookson, chairman of miniple Spear Travels, which has so far received grants for five of its 12 branches, said: “Abta is pushing hard. Common sense is needed. We haven’t even ‘restarted’ yet and have no idea when we will.”
Miles Morgan Travel chairman Miles Morgan favoured legal action. “People would have to understand how our business model works,” he said.
But Three Ways Travel co-director Lorraine House feared the issue was now a “done deal” after her local MP sought clarity from the Treasury. “It’s so frustrating,” she said.
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