£40m Support Fund for Liverpool City Region hospitality sector -Apply Today
A £40m lifeline is being thrown to Liverpool city region’s hospitality sector as it fights for survival amid the latest COVID-19 restrictions.
An appeal by Liverpool City Region business and political leaders to the Government for extra funding has so far fallen on deaf ears. So Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and the six council leaders have identified and re-purposed existing money to set up an emergency fund.
It was reported in September that, since March, the leisure and hospitality sector in Liverpool alone had lost £1bn in revenues due to the COVID-19 crisis. Business picked up in July and August but new restrictions have deepened the problems.
New Government restrictions came into force on October 3. They forbid people from mixing with other households in indoor venues – including pubs, bars and restaurants. There is also a 10pm curfew.
The sector supports more than 50,000 jobs in 4,000 business and contributes £5bn a year to the Merseyside economy. More than 200 businesses in the sector have already been lost in the face of COVID-19.
In a joint announcement on Monday morning, the Metro Mayor and the Mayor and leaders of Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton, unveiled the £40m fund. They hope it will provide a stop-gap until financial support from central Government is secured.
In a joint statement, speaking directly to businesses in the sector, the leaders said: “The new COVID-19 restrictions will make the already perilous situation for our economy even tougher than it already is.
As leaders of the Liverpool city region, we all understand why further restrictions may be needed to halt the spread of COVID-19. But we also know that at the same time they will deal a hammer blow to our economy and in particular to our hospitality and leisure sector.
“We have made it clear to the Government that with new restrictions must come a comprehensive package of financial support. This is particularly urgent for businesses in your sector, many of which have already reached breaking point.
“We pledge to you that we are doing everything we can to convince the Government to help. But we know that this is not enough and that words will not help you pay your staff, your rent or your suppliers.”
The fund is expected to launch in the next few days. It will be coordinated through local authorities, similar to the Government grants earlier this year.
Frank McKenna, chief executive of business lobby group Downtown in Business, welcomed the fund but said it might not be enough. Last week he signed a joint letter with other business leaders to Chancellor Rishi Sunak seeking urgent help for the hospitality sector.
“The Government has been beyond negligent in introducing local lockdowns without combining them with business support packages,” said Mr McKenna. “I applaud the efforts of the Liverpool city region authorities for establishing this fund. It will come as welcome news to many local companies who are on the brink and will get a lifeline from this initiative.
“However, the resources available to local government is limited, which is why I have joined other business leaders in the city to demand a more robust financial response from central government. We are not looking for hand outs or bailouts for zombie businesses.
“We have companies that, in anywhere near normal times, are viable and profitable. It is investment in Liverpool’s business community that we are asking. For which the government gets a return in terms of jobs, economic stability and, in the medium term, growth – rather than the catastrophic decline its failure to act will result in.”