90% of £1.6bn Additional Restrictions Grant money yet to be paid

Events Industry Association says thousands of businesses at risk of bankruptcy unless councils can get grants out faster to firms

UPDATED: Ninety per cent 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 £143m, or 9 per cent, of the £1.6bn earmarked for the Additional Restrictions Support Grant (ARG) has been sent to firms even though it was first unveiled in October, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

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.

According to the Telegraph, councils in Bracknell Forest, Bromsgrove, Haringey, Islington, Medway and Southampton were among the worst offenders, handing out less than 1pc of their ARG allocation as of January 18.

>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.”

Further reading

150 UK small business grants to apply for right now – UPDATED