Report of Director of Resources enclosed.
The Director of Resources submitted a report updating members on the existing Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) scheme, the recent announcement made by the Chancellor on 21 December 2021 in response to the Omicron variant regarding further business support and asking them to consider a new strand to the ARG scheme for the Omicron variant.
She reminded members that the Council currently had three live ARG grant schemes which were agreed by this committee in November 2021 – travel agents, business recovery and business growth. Since the last meeting there had been 66 applications received of which 17 had been approved and 5 rejected. The approvals totalled £120k and unallocated funds were currently £426k.
On 21 December 2021 the Chancellor had announced two further funding streams for businesses severely affected by the Omicron variant
· Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant (OHLG): businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises.
· A third top up to local authorities ARG funding to support businesses who had been severely impacted by the Omicron variant including those outside the business rate system.
The Government had issued guidance for local authorities to administer the OHLG scheme on their behalf, with the allocation to Ribble Valley being £1,056,078. Any eligible grants paid out that exceed this will be reimbursed by the Government. The Director of Resources outlined who would be eligible, the value of the grant, exclusions to the grant, and closure date for applications. An on-line application form had been designed.
Regarding the ARG top-up, it had been made clear that it should only be allocated directly to businesses that had been severely impacted by the Omicron variant and should not fund wider business support measures.
The allocation to Ribble Valley was £146,048 and it was suggested that grants should be £1000 for businesses with a rateable value and £500 for those not registered for business rates.
Councillor G Mirfin was given permission to speak on this item.
RESOLVED THAT COMMITTEE:
1. Note the progress with the existing ARG scheme;
2. Note and welcome the new OHLG scheme; and
3. Agree the grant amounts of £1,000 for businesses with a rateable value and £500 for those not registered for business rates for the new Omicron ARG scheme, and delegate the creation of a detailed scheme to the Director of Resources in consultation with the ARG task and finish group.