English language training provider representative body English UK has written to chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak seeking immediate support for the ELT industry.

The body warns that the UK ELT industry is facing an “existential threat” from Covid-19 and appeals for urgent help from the Treasury.

English UK interim chief executive Jodie Gray has asked Sunak for a business rates holiday and cash grants scheme to be offered to ELT centres, and for accredited finance providers to process Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans as soon as possible. Gray says two English UK members have already stopped trading as a result of the pandemic and many more are on the brink of insolvency.

The business rates holiday scheme was originally created for the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors, and has since been extended to nurseries, estate and letting agencies and bingo halls. Trade minister Conor Burns has already written to the chancellor asking for rates relief to be extended to ELT after meeting English UK members and staff in Bournemouth in March.

In her letter to the Chancellor, Gray writes: “Most of the centres are privately-owned businesses in a seasonal sector which was hit particularly hard and early by Covid-19. This now poses an existential threat to a successful and important UK export industry.

“As part of the national effort to keep people safe, we recommended that ELT centres close their doors on 20 March in line with publicly-funded education institutions.

“Now the UK’s ELT industry is facing an unprecedented crisis and we fear many of these schools will never open again.

“Speed in relieving the pressure of fixed overheads and in accessing cash will make all the difference in saving ELT centres, safeguarding jobs and in ensuring that we are able to build up our industry once more when the outbreak abates.”

In her letter, Gray points out that Covid-19 began to affect ELT centres’ cash flow around a month earlier than other sectors and the situation is now becoming desperate.

Date published: 3 April 2020

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