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Blackpool business recovery fund set to launch

A new discretionary grant scheme aimed at helping Blackpool businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis will be launched next week.
The £4.2m Blackpool Business Recovery Fund will be aimed at supporting those tourism businesses that lost income as a result of moving into Tier 2 and 3 restrictions prior to the national lockdown.

It will provide a range of grants for those operating in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors, including businesses directly supplying Blackpool’s visitor economy.

It will also provide strategic financial help to businesses that are deemed critical to the resort’s economic recovery in 2021.

The fund, which will be open for applications from Blackpool-based businesses from Monday 30 November, has been created by merging two discretionary funds.

The first is the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) aimed at those businesses that were allowed to remain open but were severely impacted by Tier 2 local restrictions.

The second element is the Additional Restrictions Grant, a one-off discretionary fund to assist local businesses and economic recovery. If Blackpool moves back into Tier 3 post-lockdown it will not be repeated.

The Blackpool Business Recovery Fund is on top of the non-discretionary support grant that has already seen £2.2m paid out to more than 1,100 local businesses during the period of Tier 3 and lockdown.

Eligible businesses will be split into five sectors:

Hospitality Sector: Ratepaying restaurants and cafes that have been significantly impacted due to loss of visitor trade.

Accommodation Sector: Ratepaying guest houses, B&Bs, hotels and self-catering holiday apartments that have suffered from cancellations and a reduced trading environment since the introduction of tiered and lockdown restrictions.

Leisure Sector: Ratepaying businesses in a range of leisure sub-sectors that rely on visitor footfall to trade during the season including amusement/theme parks, bowling alleys, tourist attractions, model villages, amusement arcades, piers, trampoline parks and independent theatres. A grant will also be considered for non-ratepaying tourism concessions.

Larger Hospitality and Leisure Supply Chain Businesses: A range of ratepaying businesses including industrial laundries, catering suppliers, event companies and specialist food manufacturers that have been severely impacted by the downturn in demand from traditional local hotels and other hospitality businesses (serving local markets).

The minimum grant payable to ratepaying businesses will be £500.

Taxi Drivers: This category recognises the downturn in trade for licensed taxi drivers by paying a grant equivalent to the 2020-21 license costs. Over 1,000 registered Blackpool taxi drivers will benefit from this grant.

Today, Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council, said that devising a scheme that gave tangible help to all those businesses affected was “nigh on impossible” given the amount of funding made available to the authority.

She said that given the limited budget – worth around a fifth of the previous lockdown grants – the Council had no option but to prioritise which businesses to support as well as the level of grant provided.

Cllr Williams said: “In the last lockdown we were given almost £50m to support our businesses. This time round, we have been given a total of £10m, over half of which forms an automatic grant payment for businesses forced to close during national lockdown, Tier 3 and other restrictions.

“The remaining discretionary fund has been designed so that it helps as many businesses as possible. The reality of that situation is that some of these payments will be lower than we would wish.

“But we have been presented with a nigh-on impossible task of trying to spread out too little to too many. The funding award simply does not recognise the unique nature of a tourism economy and its supply chain.

“As we have said repeatedly we will continue to press Government for a better deal that recognises the catastrophic impact that tiered restrictions and national lockdown have had on Blackpool.”

Cllr Williams said that in addition to the discretionary grant payments, the Council’s business support team would ensure that there was effective communication of business advice and support to all businesses, especially those severely affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

Applications for the Blackpool Business Recovery Fund will go live from 9am on Monday 30 November 2020 and will cease at midnight on Monday 14 December 2020.

Full eligibility details are in the process of being put together and will be announced prior to the application process going live.

For more information on COVID-19 business support, visit www.blackpoolunlimited.com/c19business-support