UK government’s discretionary fund ‘not enough’ to save hospitality groups

The UK government’s new plans to support small businesses such as bars, restaurants and pubs during lockdown don’t go far enough, according to campaigners.

On 2 May, Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Minister for Local Government, Simon Clarke, said that up to £617 million would be made available for local authorities across the country to help small businesses.

This is an additional 5% uplift to the £12.33 billion funding previously announced for the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF), and is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs.

As of 27 April, over £7.5 billion has been paid out to over 614,000 business properties via the SBGF and RHLGF schemes.

However, the grant is only available to businesses which a rateable value of up to £51,000. This means that around 54,638 businesses across England and Wales that have a higher rateable value are currently unable to access the £25,000 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant.

Croydon Business Improvement District partnered with Mr Fox pub in Croydon last month to launch a campaign called #RaisetheBar. It will lobby the government to raise the eligibility threshold for businesses to receive the £25,000 government grant from a rateable value of £51,000 to £150,000.

It said that the new fund “does not go far enough” to help UK businesses.

“The Government has made clear that this fund is for specific purposes, none of which support businesses with a rateable value between £51,000 to £150,000,” it said.

86 Conservative MPs wrote to the Chancellor on Friday 1 May, calling for the business rates threshold to be increased.

Matthew Sims, CEO, Croydon BID and co-founder of #RaiseTheBar campaign said the current hospitality grant is a “ticking time bomb for tens of thousands of businesses on our High Streets and in our local communities.”

“There are just eight weeks until rent is due and the prospect of going under is an uncomfortable truth the Government needs to hear and act upon now. The consequences of failing to increase the business rates threshold are too grim to bear.”

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