Our response to the UK Government’s Growth Plan

Earlier today, the UK chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, announced the government’s new fiscal strategy in a so-called “mini-budget” in parliament. We’ve been reflecting on how this will impact the tourism industry and social enterprises like ours.

In terms of domestic tourism, it feels as though this proposed mini budget will increase the divide between those who are able to afford experiences and travel within the UK and those who cannot. With the cost of living crisis, it will mean that fewer British people will be able to enjoy what the UK has to offer, especially if they are already having to make difficult choices between paying for food or energy through the winter months.

As a sector that is still trying to recover from the pandemic, which the office for National Statistics had already reported to have disproportionate levels of unemployment (compared to other sectors that were also badly affected), high inflation and a decline in many people’s disposable income will no doubt result in decreased spending on domestic tourism. This will result in more unemployment in the sector, further adding to the problem.

Bigger businesses will see the benefits from today’s announcement. However, many smaller tourism businesses, especially those that have had to pivot to focus on domestic tourism through the pandemic, will struggle to make it through.

As an organisation, we at Unseen Tours are working to bring into the tourism sector the perspectives of marginalised people, who are often not included in the narrative. We believe that this mini budget will make it even more difficult for marginalised and disadvantaged communities to contribute to making the UK travel sector more inclusive and representative of the diversity of the country. As it stands, there is no mention of social enterprise, co-operatives or community businesses in the government’s plan, even though it is widely accepted that these are the organisations that are best meeting the needs of marginalised communities through these challenging times.

Our hope is that there will be more support for small businesses like ours who are a lifeline to people who are vulnerably housed (having been formerly homeless), and that we will be able to continue supporting our tour guides through the coming months of increased deprivation.

About Unseen Tours:

Unseen Tours is a social enterprise that’s changing perceptions around homelessness through tourism. Since 2010, we’ve been training people affected by homelessness to curate and lead their own walking tours of London. 

The tours provide training and meaningful work opportunities for people affected by homelessness.

  • The tours are all curated by the guides themselves. We have no set script or agenda before the process, but work with the new guides to develop narratives that cover not only their own experiences of homelessness, but also local community stories that they are most interested in. It’s a very person-led process.
  • We work on building the guide’s self-confidence, public speaking, storytelling, customer management skills through the process as well as other skills that each individual needs. Through the training and tour guiding process other guides have been on, we really have seen people come to be their confident selves again.
  • The conversations that customers have on the tours have the wider impact of increasing understanding of homelessness. It helps people challenge their own negative misconceptions and prejudices through dialogue and storytelling. 

Tours can be booked online at www.unseentours.org.uk

For all press enquiries, email us at press@unseentours.org.uk