Grant deadline looms for hospitality firms

Eligible businesses in England have until the end of this month to apply for the new Omicron hospitality and leisure grants.

The Treasury announced more support for hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses before Christmas last year.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said at that time the new grant was part of a new support package worth £1 billion.

That followed hospitality and leisure firms being hit by a collapse in bookings amid consumer concerns over the spread of Omicron.

According to Hospitality UK, many of these businesses reported lost trade in December 2021 - often their most profitable month - of 40-60%.

Speaking before Christmas, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people were "rightly exercising more caution" as they went about their lives.

"This is impacting our hospitality, leisure and cultural sectors at what is typically their busiest time of the year," he added.

How much are the grants worth?

Restaurants, bars, cinemas and theatres in England have until a specified date this month, determined by the applicant's local authority, to apply.

The Treasury has set aside an initial £683 million for these firms and it will be provided under existing council-run schemes.

The scheme is based on business rates and a premise's pre-pandemic rateable value from April 2017. The next revaluation is due in April 2023.

Business premises in the hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of up to £15,000 are eligible for grants of up to £2,667.

Those hospitality and leisure firms with a rateable value from £15,000 to £51,000 will be eligible for grants of up to £4,000.

Those with rateable values over £51,000 can get the £6,000 grants, so larger chains will be the ones to benefit from the top end of this support.

Eligibility criteria

Businesses in England must offer in-person services and be operating in the hospitality, leisure or accommodation sectors.

The business must be the current ratepayer in occupation of commercial premises appearing on the local rating list on 30 December 2021.

Firms should also have been significantly affected by the Omicron variant and within state subsidy level. They also must not be:

  • in administration
  • insolvent
  • subject to a striking-off notice.
  • Successful applicants will receive their grants on or before 31 March 2022.

Claiming the grant

Some local authorities in England have been inviting businesses that claimed restart grants to apply for the latest emergency support.

Other eligible businesses will have to go to their local authority's website and directly submit a claim through there.

To process claims and pass anti-fraud checks, the local authority will usually require:

  • the business bank account details
  • their business rates reference number
  • the number of employees
  • the Companies House registration number (for incorporations)
  • the unique taxpayer reference number (for the self-employed)
  • the registered charity number (for charities).

Councils gripped by inertia?

Frustrations are mounting that some local authorities are digging their heels in over distributing the grants to help struggling businesses.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) claims many of the grants have yet to be handed out, despite payments being due in seven weeks.

Mike Cherry, chairman at the FSB, said:

"Close to a billion pounds [£850m] worth of business support grants for those most in need are still yet to reach them.

"It's exasperating to see that, after all this time, some [local] authorities still haven't got their houses in order."

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