Media Release: 23 May 2020

Cumbria Tourism is today welcoming the Government’s announcement of a change to the Local Authority Discretionary Grant Scheme which will now offer a lifeline to many businesses in the county.

The county’s official Destination Management Organisation (DMO) has been working hard to secure financial support for all tourism businesses in Cumbria since the Coronavirus pandemic began, but it soon became clear that the Small Business Grant Fund, which calculated eligibility based on Business Rates payments, failed to cover smaller businesses paying Council Tax. Following lobbying, this appeared to be resolved with the announcement of the Local Authority Discretionary Fund earlier this month. However, many businesses’ hopes were short-lived when the published guidance then appeared to exclude anyone eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Cumbria Tourism was originally delighted when the Government responded to their and others’ calls and announced the Discretionary Grant Scheme. However, the strict criteria within the new scheme would unfortunately not have provided the support intended.  They therefore immediately resumed discussions with local and national Government, MPs, and countrywide partners seeking to rectify this issue and ensure small businesses were provided with similar support to that offered to the rest of the industry.

Today’s updated guidance, which removes the SEISS from the eligibility criteria, will come as an enormous relief for hundreds of small businesses, many in desperate need of support to survive the pandemic. Further detail will be shared with local authorities next week, and Cumbria Tourism will continue to follow developments closely to ensure funding is directed to those who need it most.

Responding to today’s news, Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director, Gill Haigh, said: “Since the lockdown began we have dealt with hundreds of enquiries from businesses who have seen their livelihoods disappear overnight. Whilst the Chancellor has brought forward a welcome wide range of support, we have been deeply distressed by the plight of many of our members who have found themselves outside the schemes through no fault of their own.

 “This is particularly the case for our Bed and Breakfasts, who had previously been advised to pay Council Tax rather than Business Rates. Many were dealt a double blow when the initial Discretionary Fund once again appeared to cut them off from support. Over the last few weeks we have been working nonstop to support them by gathering case studies, working with Government, using our influence with our MPs and partners and raising the issue across national, regional and local media.

 “I can only imagine the weight that has been lifted from so many businesses today, allowing them to look ahead to reopening rather than the prospect of having to cover overheads despite no income since March.

 “We await further details but on the face of it this additional funding appears to be the answer we have been fighting for. We are grateful for all the support Cumbria Tourism has had and to the Government for listening.”

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