UKHospitality has welcomed a £5bn Government package of grants aimed at helping the high street reopen.
The grants will be for up to £18,000 per hospitality business and available from April. They will be distributed by local authorities and replace the monthly grant system. Further details are expected following Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget on Wednesday.
An additional £425 million has also been added to the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) fund to help those not receiving the grants.
The trade body highlighted the “urgent need” for the grants to reach all hospitality businesses as quickly as possible. It said previous grants have been delayed by bureaucratic processes and businesses reported that only 37% of grants announced in January had been paid out a month later.
Kate Nicholls, CEO, UKHospitality said: “This announcement is great news for hospitality businesses that have been struggling to see how they could survive through to the Prime Minister’s reopening dates. Cash reserves have been severely depleted after a year of closure and restrictions and these grants are a very welcome boost, putting the sector in a better place to restart.
“It is absolutely critical that the grant funding is put into the hands of hospitality business owners as quickly as possible. Businesses are crying out for the cash now so there can be no further delays which might make it too late for some.
“The Government must also clarify once and for all that these grants are not subject to EU State Aid rules and that grants can flow to all businesses that so desperately need them.
“While this is a positive step it needs to be part of a wider package at the Budget that includes an extension to the 5% VAT rate for a full year and a business rates holiday through 2021/22. Without these measures, and full furlough while we re-open, the hospitality sector’s recovery will be stunted along with our ability to start tackling unemployment by creating jobs.”