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Lifeline announced for backbone of Cumbria’s tourism industry

Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism

Cumbria Tourism has today welcomed the Government’s announcement of additional financial support for Bed and Breakfasts alongside other small hospitality and leisure businesses that have so far been falling through the cracks.

According to the latest information, local authorities are being asked to prioritise businesses that pay Council Tax rather than Business Rates. Additionally, authorities will be given the discretion to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. This will be administered through the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF).

There will be three levels of grant payments, with a maximum of £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000 and authorities will also have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for individual councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances and Cumbria Tourism will be liaising closely with all six of Cumbria’s local authorities to ensure this funding is directed to the businesses which need it the most.

Further details are scheduled to be announced next week but this appears to be a major boost for the hundreds of Bed and Breakfasts and small hospitality businesses across Cumbria which have suffered significantly due to the Coronavirus restriction measures but have so far been unable to access any support.

Responding to today’s news, Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director, Gill Haigh, said: “Since the lockdown began Cumbria Tourism has dealt with over 1500 enquiries from businesses who have seen their livelihoods disappear overnight. Whilst the Chancellor has brought forward a wide range of welcome schemes which are helping many businesses with overheads, we have been deeply distressed by the plight of many of our members whose businesses contribute so hugely to the sector but 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. We have been working non-stop to support these businesses, gathering case studies, working with Government, using our influence with our MPs and partners and raising the issue across national, regional and local media and it is immensely encouraging to see this response today.

“We are grateful to our partners such as the Bed and Breakfast Association, the Tourism Alliance and UK Hospitality who have taken up our cause nationally. We await full details but on the face of it this additional funding appears to be the answer we have been fighting for. I can only imagine the relief it will bring to hundreds of businesses.

“We will share further information as soon as it is received.”

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