Practically 90% of £1.6bn Extra Restrictions Grant cash but to be paid
Nearly 90% of an extra £1.6bn in emergency Additional Restrictions Grant funds promised back in October have yet to be paid out.
Thousands of business across England face further job losses or bankruptcy due to local councils being slow to get Additional Restrictions Grant money out of the door, says events industry body Events Industry Alliance.
The Government announced initial £1bn worth of Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) funds to help businesses forced to close because of Covid-19 restrictions four months ago. A further £594m worth of cash was added to the ARG funds pot in January.
>See also: Local authorities blame government for slow release of Covid-19 grants
Businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure, including events, are eligible for one-off grants up to £3,000 each.
However, only £1.4bn had been paid out so far by local authorities in England, says the EIA.
Companies seem to be facing a postcode lottery, with some councils yet to make any payments, while a handful have distributed a significant proportion of the funds.
Overall, as of February 9, local authorities issued on average 13 per cent of the ARG grant monies received.
But some local authorities have performed much worse, especially Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (4 per cent), West Oxfordshire District Council (4 per cent) and Herefordshire Council (5 per cent).
And Ealing Council had yet to make one single ARG payment, despite receiving £9.9m in funding.
>See also: £9000 lockdown grant for businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure
ESSA based its research on 400 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to local authorities across England.
Andrew Harrison, director, Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA), part of the EIA, said: “We are making an urgent call on the UK Government and local MPs across England to provide clear guidance to local authorities on issuing the Additional Restrictions Grant, in order that payments are made to eligible companies as soon as possible.
“Businesses in the events and exhibitions sector have been forced to close due to COVID-19 restrictions and therefore require appropriate financial support if they are not permitted to operate. It is now up to local authorities to ensure proper economic support is delivered to the sector.”
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