Showmen’s Guild Central Office: Latest funding update

Showmen’s Guild Central Office has issued the following funding update:

Updated (ARG) for England:

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) provides additional funding for local authorities subject to national lockdown or Tier 3 restrictions, to support businesses that have had their trade affected by the restrictions. This includes:

• closed businesses that don’t pay business rates

• businesses that have not been required to close, but are still severely impacted

Each local authority has the discretion to establish business grant schemes or other business support as best fits their area. Check your eligibility here.

Financial support in Wales:

Local Discretionary Grant – business fund extension 

Financial support in Scotland:

Local Authority Discretionary Fund

Also for the Events & Tourism Industry 

Also support for freelancers and the Event Sector 

Financial support in Northern Ireland: 

Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme 

Also the Micro Business E-commerce Grant

More updated details on ARG in England:

There has been more money allocated to local councils to distribute and, following lobbying, the allocation is to be less restrictive and this should benefit you.

Although local authorities are administering these grants, the Government are putting more and more pressure on them to get this money paid out to those it was meant for. Fortunately, an additional £425m has been added to the funding-pot and the ARG guidance has now been updated. (see further on…)

The £425m added nationally for these grants top up the original £1.4b provided to all parts of the UK – England have called this ARG, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have called the schemes they use to administer this money by a range of names (as above)

As the additional money is given to local authorities, the number of businesses who are eligible will be far greater and the amount of money you can access should increase.

Who is supported is left to the discretion of local councils, but guidance has recently been updated to say:

• Paragraph 27: Local Authorities are encouraged to support businesses from all sectors that may have been severely impacted by restrictions but are not eligible for the Restart Grant scheme. This may include, but is not limited to, group travel and tour operators, other tourism businesses (including B&Bs and event industry suppliers), wholesalers, English language schools, breweries, freelance and mobile businesses (including caterers, events, hair, beauty and wedding related businesses), wraparound care providers, and other businesses that may have not received other grant funding. This list is not directive nor exhaustive, and Local Authorities should continue to issue grants at their discretion, based on local economic needs.

Eligibility now

Local councils have the freedom to determine the eligibility criteria for these grants. However, we expect the funding to help those businesses which, while not legally forced to close, are nonetheless severely impacted by the restrictions.

The guidance says that this could include:

• businesses which supply the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors

• businesses in the tourism and events sectors

• business required to close but which do not pay business rates

• The updated Guidance for Local Authorities can be seen here.

• Fixed costs can be included in the assessment for the ARG grant. 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.

• Previous guidance for the ARG indicated that businesses must have been trading before relevant restrictions were introduced in order to be eligible. This no longer applies and it means that the grants are no longer dependent on the dates you were trading.

• Also, it will include businesses who haven’t been trading.

• All businesses that are trading and meet other eligibility criteria may apply to receive funding under this scheme.

• There is no starting date from which businesses must have been trading in order to qualify for grant funding.

• now the focus is on whether you have been affected & how badly affected you have been – you are not limited by dates, it is all about whether you have been severely affected.

How Local Authorities make a decision

In taking decisions on the size of grant, Local Authorities may take into account:

• businesses outside of the business rates system

• businesses that have not received any other grant support

• the level of fixed costs of the business

• the number of employees the business has

• whether it is unable to trade online

• and the consequent scale of coronavirus losses

For the purposes of this grant scheme, a business is considered to be trading if it is engaged in business activity. This includes:

• Managing accounts

• preparing for reopening

• planning and implementing COVID-safe measures

Additionally, fixed costs such as lockups / yards etc. can be included in your claim.

If you are a mobile business (including being a caterer or a Showman / Showwoman) and have not been able to get a Local Restrictions Grant so far, then you must apply for an ARG grant.

These grants have been created for businesses like yours and even if you have already applied you must contact your local authority and apply again.

If they have already issued you with a grant then they may receive additional grant money automatically. However, you should press your Local Authority to support you with this ARG funding.

Funding is to be provided from 1 April 2021 on a per-business basis to ensure that Local Authorities can target funding fairly and directly at business support.

Although you do not pay a grant back like you would a loan, grant income received by a business is taxable. The ARG will need to be included as income in the tax return of the business, BUT only businesses which make an overall profit once grant income is included will be subject to tax.

Payments made to businesses before 5 April 2021 will fall into the 2020/21 tax year. Payments after 6 April 2021 will fall into the 2021/22 tax year.

Check your local authority website for updates regularly (the announcements come and go like supermarket discounts!) and apply as soon as you can. Find your local council here

There is still a significant amount of money that local authorities have not paid out and this money must be accessed by Showmen / Showwomen and the wider events sector.

Local Authorities have until 30 June 2021 to prove that they have spent or made a validated attempt to spend 100% of their first two ARG allocations. This is to speed up the allocation of the existing £1.6bn in ARG funding as only around 12% of this was spent when the last figures were published.

A tip that seems to help is to also speak to your local councillor as this seems to get a better response.   Find out more here.

If you have not or are having difficulties accessing these grants then please write to:

• your local council CEO

• and to your local MP once again – (the government ministers and our All-Party Parliamentary Group insist it is worth it)

• and let your Section know, so we can feed this back into Government as we did successfully in December.

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