An emergency fund of up to £40million launches today (Thurs 15 October) in a bid to protect Liverpool City Region’s vital hospitality and leisure businesses from the huge economic impact Covid-19 restrictions are having on the sector.
First announced Friday 2nd October by the Metro Mayor and the Mayor and Leaders of the city region’s six local authorities, the fund had been created and readied for launch earlier last week.
However, it was paused following the Chancellor’s announcement last Friday on the national furlough scheme and business support package and the announcement of Liverpool City Region being placed in to the Tier 3 ‘very high risk’ Covid-19 category.
Over the last few days, Combined Authority and Local Authority officers have been working closely with the hospitality sector to understand how the fund could best be redesigned to support them.
The fund aims to enable viable businesses to continue trading and retain as many jobs as possible; support temporarily closed businesses to top up employees’ wages and remain solvent; and to help lay the ground for economic recovery across the hospitality and leisure sector in the future.
It will be used to help keep businesses in the sector afloat for up to four months, until a wider and more substantial financial support package can be secured from central Government.
The aim is that the first funding will reach applicants within 10 days of applications being approved, with subsequent payments phased over the period of the grant.
A ‘grant application window’ will open at 10.00am tomorrow, Friday 16 October 2020 and will close at 5.00pm on Friday 30 October 2020
Eligible businesses wishing to apply should visit their own Local Authority websites for details and will be able to apply online when the window opens.
Detailed eligibility criteria will be available to applicants and will include:
Small and micro hospitality and leisure businesses
- Based in the Liverpool City Region – Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral
- One full time equivalent employee or more
- Going concern
- Business to consumer
- Trading from a commercial premises
In a joint statement, the Metro Mayor, City Mayor and Leaders of the city region’s six local authorities said:
“The past six months have been an exceptionally difficult period for local businesses but despite the challenges they have faced, many have done an incredible job, showcasing the creativity, determination and resilience our region is known for.
“We know business owners and staff are absolutely at breaking point and we will do anything we can to prevent businesses and jobs going to the wall.
“The furlough scheme announced by the Chancellor last week falls far short of what our region needs and deserves. If 80% was the right level of support back in March, then it should be in November. Lots of the people affected by these new restrictions will be in low paid, insecure work and it is deeply unfair to expect them to survive on two-thirds of the minimum wage.
“We will continue to fight for a more comprehensive funding package, but in the meantime, where the national government has stepped away, we, as local leaders, will step up.
“We know that once a business is gone, they are gone, and we must do everything we can to prevent that.
“Our hope is that this fund can provide some interim support and will mean local businesses and their staff survive in the coming weeks and months, until the government does the right thing.
“Our own teams have worked round the clock, in partnership with the sector, to get this fund ready for applications.
“We are committed to ensuring that we turn applications round at pace and get money to those businesses who so desperately need it.
“If, and when, we are successful in securing more national support, it may well replace the need for this fund, enabling us to repurpose the money back to other areas where it is also sorely needed.” Councillor Kate Groucutt, St Helens Borough’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Business said: “Throughout this crisis there have been many gaps in the financial support provided by central Government to businesses, and this local scheme for the hospitality and leisure industry is our latest effort to plug some of those gaps and help as many companies as we can. We have already distributed more than £28m in grants in recent months to 2,500 local businesses that may not have been eligible for initial business grant payments. “I know that residents really value the independent pubs, restaurants and visitor attractions throughout our Borough, and would be devastated if they closed for good. As a Council we are committed to doing all we can to support our local businesses and their employees through these tough times, so that they can open their doors to customers once again in the future.”Councillor Martin Bond, Cabinet Member for Finance, added: said: “We recognise the significant contribution leisure and hospitality settings make to the local economy, and with big regeneration plans of our own, supporting them through sensible spending – drawn from sources that will not harm other council services – is absolutely the right thing to do if they’re to be part of an exciting future.
“ If you are eligible to apply for this funding, I would very much encourage you to apply.”