With COVID-19 restrictions wiping out Christmas trade for businesses in South Yorkshire, and the region facing Tier 3 restrictions continuing into the New Year, Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis is calling on Government to provide businesses forced to close with essential Christmas compensation.
Coronavirus has had a severe impact on the hospitality, accommodation and entertainment industry, with restrictions seeing businesses closed since October when South Yorkshire entered local restrictions ahead of national lockdown, and now remaining in Tier 3 through December and into the New Year.
During this time, Government has provided local authorities with enough funds to only cover up to £3,000 of costs for businesses forced to close through the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG). However, the grant levels fall short of the fixed costs facing many businesses, who must still pay rent, utilities, insurance and security as a minimum. For example, the monthly rent alone for a rent of £51k is £4,250 but the maximum grant value available is £3,000.
The LRSG also does not take account of the huge loss of income from the crucial Christmas trading period, where some hospitality businesses make 40% of their annual takings. South Yorkshire’s councils have been using the Additional Restrictions Grant pot to top-up funds for businesses during December, but Government need to take action to provide further funds to businesses impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
Now South Yorkshire is facing an extended period of Tier 3, the Mayor has called on Government to look again at the support available and increase the grant available for businesses forced to close by at least 50%.
Mayor Dan Jarvis said: “If we don’t get help to businesses soon, it will be too late for many of them. This isn’t just about the short-term harm done today to workers and businesses, but about the long-term harm done tomorrow and beyond to our regional economy.
“If COVID has taught us anything, it’s how much we all value the places where we come together to spend time with family and friends: our favourite restaurants and pubs, and cherished arts, heritage, culture and entertainment venues.
“In South Yorkshire we’ve worked to support those businesses that have fallen through the cracks of the national support scheme. We’ve made every pound of support go as far as possible, targeting support at businesses forced to close and those who have remained open but have been trading under severe conditions.
“We’re also helping businesses in the supply chain of sectors forced to close due to restrictions; self-employed businesses with fixed property costs; and, we’ve allocated discretionary funds to our local authorities to spend as they see fit to support people, businesses and communities.
“But the paltry and dwindling support on offer from Government means we risk losing some hospitality and accommodation businesses forever, leaving our high streets hallowed out if we do not offer a lifeline at this critical time to support them. It’s why I’m calling for Christmas compensation for businesses who have remained closed due to ongoing Tier 3 restrictions.
“The Chancellor said he would ‘do whatever it takes’ – now is not the time to stop short.”
Sheffield City Region’s Mayoral Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership have been working with Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield councils to support businesses not eligible for Government support through the Additional Restrictions Grant. Contact the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub to discuss eligibility.