Urgent action needed to help LGBT+ venues access insurance

Press Releases 10 May 2021

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) today raises the alarm for businesses struggling to access insurance, preventing them from reopening in line with official Government roadmaps out of lockdown.

It comes amid an initial group of LGBT+ businesses such as a historic LGBT+ sauna in Southampton, which has been shown the door by insurance providers in spite of exhaustive searches (by FSB Insurance Services) across the whole insurance market. Having lost its building insurance and employer's liability insurance for staff, the sauna now faces permanent closure in the weeks ahead unless a provider can be found.

FSB is therefore calling on insurers, and if necessary the Government, to step up and ensure that no business is left behind as restrictions ease.  Small firms in the leisure and hospitality industry, especially those in the LGBT+ community, are now at risk. Where affordable and available insurance has proved difficult in the past, the Government has worked with the insurance industry to provide it – through Flood Re and Pool Re, to ensure small businesses could access flooding and terrorism insurance. Some form of intervention may be needed, here, to protect vital LGBT+ community interests.

FSB Chief of External Affairs Craig Beaumont said: "After more than a year of struggle for small firms right across the board, and billions spent supporting these firms as we finally unlock the economy, now is the time to ensure that every business is able to reopen and play their important role in local communities.

"But some firms, notably those in the LGBT+ sector, are facing further complications to reopening that could threaten jobs, livelihoods, as well as the wellbeing and support that they offer to local communities.  These firms have survived through the lockdown until now through Government support in grants, furlough and Bounce Back Loans, but this investment will have been squandered if they are legally unable to open as they cannot secure the cover that regulations mandate them to get.

"LGBT+ businesses like the Southampton sauna that has invested in making itself COVID-secure ready to reopen, appear to be at risk as they don't meet the traditional mold, and so are perceived as a higher risk.  Whereas the real risk here is that small businesses that play a hugely important role for marginalised local communities face closure, meaning there will be fewer safe spaces for the LGBT+ community - at a time when many of us are looking forwards to socialising again after more than a year of isolation. This is damaging to small businesses, jobs, local economies as well as the LGBT+ community.”

"That is why we are asking insurers to step up to provide cover to these firms before it’s too late and they are lost forever – and if necessary, for Ministers to take action to save them.  FSB is happy to discuss further ways to support small firms via the use of initiatives similar to Pool Re or Flood Re.

"The country's recovery is dependent on the success of small businesses who are the backbone or our economy, it's time we showed that the support is there so that these businesses are not left to fail."

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell who is supporting the campaign for insurance, said:

“Give that insurance is mandatory, the refusal of insurance to a lawful business is disturbing. It threatens businesses, jobs and livelihoods, just as lockdown is beginning to ease and these businesses are trying to build back. Some of them are venues that provide services to the LGBT+ community, often in regions of the country where there are already too few gay meeting and entertainment venues. Their closure would be a loss. 

“Whatever people think about the adult services industry, it is legal and should not be refused the cover it needs to operate.

“If rejection by insurers is not reversed it could mean the closure of many venues across the UK, with the loss of hundreds of jobs.  

"The government and financial regulator need to liaise with the insurance industry to ensure that insurers provide the necessary cover. If necessary, the government itself should act as an insurer of last resort as part of its Covid recovery plan."


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About FSB

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB’s) mission is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions. As well as being the UK’s leading business campaigning organisation, FSB also offers its members a wide range of vital business services, including a 24/7 legal advice line, access to finance, cyber protection, events and a powerful voice heard in governments. Fsb.org.uk

Media contacts

Jordan Bhatt: 0207 592 3352 / 07813 520 857  [email protected] 

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