Local Authorities have been told they must consider events businesses eligible for Additional Restrictions Grants (ARG).
The Government updated its ARG guidance, 4 March, with a specific clause that stated businesses that have not been forced to legally close should receive funding. To date, this has been a technicality in which many events businesses, including agencies, organisers, suppliers and venues, have been prevented from receiving much-needed funding.
Events businesses of all kinds have not been explicitly told to close by Government in the same way as the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, but at the same time have not been allowed to operate legally since March 2020. This has caused confusion among many Local Authorities.
The updated guidance read: “Local councils have the freedom to determine the eligibility criteria for these [ARG] grants. However, we expect the funding to help those businesses which – while not legally forced to close – are nonetheless severely impacted by the restrictions.
“This could include: businesses which supply the retail, hospitality, and leisure sector; businesses in the tourism and events sectors; businesses required to close but which do not pay business rates.”
Businesses must be considered as trading to be eligible to receive funding under the ARG scheme. Local Authorities will still have discretionary power of non-rateable businesses.
Where Local Authorities have previously rejected applications from businesses that were not open, but can be considered to have been trading, Local Authorities have been asked to revisit these applications and pay these businesses retrospectively.
Where a Local Authority has previously rejected an applicant’s application before 4 March on the grounds that the applicant had reached previous scheme limits, the Local Authority must not revisit this decision. The applicant may however submit a new application if still within a current payment cycle.
In January, the tourism minister, Nigel Huddleston MP, said that Local Authorities should provide grant funding to event businesses, in what was viewed as a welcome intervention by many in the events industry who had been turned down.
This coincided with the results of a Freedom of Information request launched by the Event Industry Alliance, which revealed of 128 or 314 England’s Local Authorities that responded, £1.6bn worth of these grants had been held back. Some Local Authorities had failed to pay out a penny.