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Thousands of businesses across England are facing further job losses or bankruptcy due to the failure of local authorities to award £1.4bn of emergency Covid-19 grants, according to the Event Industry Alliance (EIA).

The organisation said that responses to 400 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, issued by the Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) to local authorities across England, have indicated that 87% of the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) funds, announced by the UK Government, have yet to be paid out.

EIA has published a chart showing the percentage of awarded ARG funding that had been paid out by individual councils at the time of the FOI request. Blaby Disctrict Council in East Midlands is shown to be among the councils that have paid out the least, proportionately, having distributed only 0.55% of the nearly £3m it has received from Government. The vast majority of councils had paid out less than 10% of funding received.

The ARG scheme, which could be worth in excess of £3,000 per month per company, provides funding for local authorities to support businesses forced to close because of national Covid-19 restrictions. These include companies in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, as well as events and exhibitions businesses. The scheme was announced by the Government on 31 October last year, with an initial £1bn funding allocation, and a further £594m issued in early January.

ESSA director Andrew Harrison said events businesses have been forced to close due to Covid-19 restrictions and therefore require urgent and appropriate financial support if they are not permitted to operate: “We are making an urgent call on the UK Government and local MPs across England to provide clear guidance to local authorities on issuing the Additional Restrictions Grant, in order that payments are made to eligible companies as soon as possible.

“It is now up to the government to provide clear and direct communication in this area of support and for local authorities to ensure proper mechanisms and guidance is followed in order for economic support to be delivered to the sector.”