by Mark Laurie
The new and improved ARG (Additional Restriction Grant) will be available for NCASS members via their local authority from 1st April. Seeing as less than a quarter of local authorities paid out to mobile caterers first time round, they certainly needed improvement.
Over £800 million of the first round of grant money remains unpaid and local authorities have been told to pay it out or they won’t get the top up of £425m. This is the backdrop to the final attempt at a lifeline for indie food businesses without rateable premises.
The government have assured us that they will press local authorities to support our sector. They did that last time and 80% of NCASS members got nothing and for those that did, the amount of money varied wildly between local authorities.
The issues from the previous grant seem to have been ironed out and in theory most if not all NCASS members should qualify. If they don’t, we’ll be pretty much the only sector to have gone through the covid pandemic with nothing from government except the promise of a corporation tax rise.
It’s been a bruising twelve months and many businesses are running on fumes, the speed at which money can be distributed as well as the amount will be critical if hundreds possibly thousands of businesses are to make it to re-opening. The government and the local authorities need to move at pace.
We have argued for (with others) and achieved some major concessions, especially within these new ARG grants. The key reasons why members were rejected were fed into government and many have been dealt with in the new updated guidance.
- Fixed costs can be included in the assessment. This means people paying business rates through their landlords – and their landlords in the case of market halls can apply and include fixed costs in part of their ask.
- The grants are to be based on how severely impacted your business has been, not whether it was mandated to close during a certain time.
- You do not have to fit into specific criteria of what a hospitality business is or isn’t. you just have to be impacted.
- Businesses that opened during covid are not excluded.
- More businesses should be eligible and more money available – this money has to be spent imminently.
Hopefully, we will finally have received the support our sector needs, the local authority’s discretion will finally Favour us. We deserve a break, and it is all in the interpretation of the guidance by local authorities now.
Get in contact with your local authority and find out how to get your application in as soon as you can.
Please let us know if you do receive the grant and whether it will be enough to help. If you are unsuccessful. You need to complain to the local authority and find out why. We cannot force local authorities to change their decisions, but we will compile evidence on the reasons for rejection and the authorities concerned and feed back to government.
Best of luck,