A £40m fund to support Liverpool city region hospitality businesses has been launched by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram – here are the details. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has released details of a £40m fund to support hospitality businesses amid new COVID-19 control measures.
Mr Rotheram also said he and the city region leaders had written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ask for formal talks to begin on more financial support for businesses across the city region. He added: “We will not allow them to do lockdown for the North on the cheap.”
This week, Prime Minister Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a new three-tier system of COVID-19 control measures. He immediately placed Liverpool city region on tier three, which is the highest alert level.
Merseyside is currently the region worst hit by the resurgence of the COVID-19 virus. Rising cases have led to a jump in hospitalisation which, in turn, has led to a rise in the number of COVID patients in intensive care. ICU in Liverpool are now hovering around 95% full.
From Wednesday this week all pubs and bars, gyms and leisure centres, betting shops, adult gaming centres and casinos were ordered to close. The restrictions cover the six boroughs of the city region – Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton.
Mr Rotheram says the new support scheme for businesses announced by the Chancellor last week was inadequate and would lead to businesses failures and large-scale job losses. The scheme would see the Government pay furloughed workers 67% of their wages – down from the original 80%. It also offers monthly cash grants of up to £3,000.
Over the last few days, Combined Authority and local authority officers have been working closely with the hospitality sector to understand how the fund could best be redesigned to support them. The fund aims to enable viable businesses to continue trading and retain as many jobs as possible.
It will also look to 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. And 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 10am tomorrow, Friday, October 16, and will close at 5pm on Friday, October 30.
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. 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.
“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.”