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UK Chamber of Shipping Ask for Multi-Million-Pound Coronavirus Relief Fund

The UK Chamber of Shipping has demanded an immediate multi-million-pound government support package to ensure the shipping industry can continue to bring in the food, goods and medicines the country will need to fight the coronavirus.

Illustration. Image Courtesy: Pexels under CC0 Creative Commons license

On March 17, the trade association spoke with the Maritime Minister Kelly Tolhurst, demanding the relief fund.

After the conference call, UK Chamber of Shipping Chief Executive Bob Sanguinetti said:

“The world is facing a monumental crisis. Shipping is the lifeblood of our nation and we must do what we can as an industry to keep our supply lines open for a strong and healthy UK.”

“Shipowners will adapt to meet the ongoing coronavirus challenges head on. It will mean changes to infrastructure, employment and processes on ships and in ports, but it will only succeed with the necessary leadership and support from government today,” he added.

“We recognise we are living in unprecedented times and we strongly urge the government to set up an emergency relief fund to help the industry in the coming weeks and months,” Sanguinetti pointed out.

The UK Chamber of Shipping is demanding the fund for the help with hugely reduced cash flows resulting from a dramatic loss of business, to keep freight flowing into the country as well as for the support with seafarers’ salaries in the short term to prevent job losses and loss of expertise.

Moreover, the association is seeking grants to assist with the additional costs of virus provisions which operators have put in place as well as grants to deal with increased costs such as overtime, agency fees and any other cost associated with providing sufficient crew.

In addition, the trade body for shipping has asked for a clear guidance to ports and local health authorities to allow ships to continue trading, and for the swift disembarkation / repatriation of crew members; delays on VAT payments; the use of credit notes for future travel in lieu of refunding deposits and the relief from income tax for seafarers onboard vessels which ordinarily spend over 183 days a year outside the country.

What is more, the UK trade association said that ships laid up in UK ports should continue to receive tax and duty relief for standard supplies and sought assistance with the safe return of UK cruise passengers from around the world.

The UK shipping sector moves 95% of our trade and employs over 180,000 people.