The Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) has once again highlighted the disparity in the disbursement of the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) to SMEs by local and regional authorities around the UK.

ESSA said its previous research revealed disparities between different authorities and what proportion of the available funds had been paid to businesses in need. Today, 21 June, in the wake of the delay to step four of the roadmap out of lockdown, the Government’s figures show an average grant payment of £600 had been made to businesses in the “worst performing regions of the UK” up to April this year.

ESSA director Andrew Harrison (pictured) said, “How we have got into a position where some authorities have achieved an overspend during this period, while others are struggling to break 10% -20% of their allocated funds is beyond me. The future of many companies is hanging in the balance, and every unspent pound of ARG is a missed opportunity to protect businesses, jobs and livelihoods. This postcode lottery must end.”

Harrison concluded, “This is an urgent call for UK Government – you must provide clear ARG guidance and instruction to local authorities now. You must ensure problems in the business support system are solved immediately. Businesses in the events and exhibitions sector have been forced to shut for the last 15 months due to Covid-19 restrictions. They urgently need appropriate and continued financial support they have been promised but denied, especially now with a delay to step four.”