An emergency fund of up to £40million has been launched to protect vital hospitality and leisure businesses in our region from the huge economic impact Covid-19 restrictions are having on the sector.
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.
Natalie Haywood, owner of Leaf, said: “This emergency fund is sorely needed to help save hundreds of businesses from collapse and thousands of jobs.
“It’s impossible to overstate just how difficult it will be for hospitality businesses to keep trading with these restrictions in place – either because they are still trading but not breaking even or because they are forced to close.
“Once a business and the jobs it supports are gone, they will not come back easily, so we have to do everything we can to keep going so that we have an industry left when we get through Covid-19.
“We are doing everything we can to keep going and protect our staff and have been really pleased to collaborate to shape this emergency fund to meet our needs.”
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.”