Cash-starved agents missing out on £300m in local COVID grants

By Lisa James
19/10/2021
Home » Cash-starved agents missing out on £300m in local COVID grants

Agents and operators need to keep badgering councils for additional grants that have been made available for local businesses hit by the pandemic, ABTA says.

ABTA Director of Public Affairs Luke Petherbridge said Government data shows there could be as much as £300 million in unspent Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) funding available to travel companies across England, as of the end of August 2021.

He said company owners need to ‘be persistent’ in claiming what they are entitled to, adding: “We know from the stories of members that have been successful that perseverance is important.”

There is no restriction on the number of grants a business may receive and Government guidance to councils – updated in June – encourages local authorities to focus their support on ‘those sectors that remain closed or are severely impacted by the extended restrictions, even if those businesses have already been in receipt of Restart Grants.’

Mr Petherbridge said: “The majority of our members have been starved of cash over the last 18 months.

“Although it is easier for people to travel, without financial support some companies will find it difficult to get through these next few months, which is why we are urging them to pursue the Additional Restrictions Grant funding.

“The level of funding left does vary from council to council and each local authority is ultimately free to make their own decisions, but we would encourage members to look into whether funding if available.”

Agents who are members of ABTA can find out how much unspent grant is available in their local authority’s pot in the ABTA MemberZone.

“If the funding is available, we would urge members to get in touch directly with their local authority and to be persistent – providing evidence on how your business has been restricted over recent months and highlighting the guidance from Government that urges support for travel companies,” he added.

ABTA has previously written to every council in England to urge them to target support to the travel industry.

This week, Chief Executive Mark Tanzer has also written to Business Minister Paul Scully and Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston to ask them to remind councils of the Government’s updated guidance, as well as to urge local authorities to prioritise travel companies within the £1.5bn discretionary business rates relief scheme, funding for which is due with councils in the coming weeks.

Ahead of the budget on 27 October ABTA has reiterated its case for a dedicated grants scheme for travel businesses and called for the extension of business rates relief. It’s also urged the Government not to increase related taxes on consumers and businesses, including APD and corporation taxes, as the sector looks to get back on its feet.

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