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

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 per cent of the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) funds, announced by the UK Government, have yet to be paid out.

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 UK Government on October 31, 2020 with an initial £1 billion funding allocation, with a further £594 million issued in early January 2021.

Businesses within the exhibitions sector include numerous small and medium-sized suppliers and event organising companies, which currently face an inability to earn revenues due to national restrictions. They are relying on the ARG to meet short-term costs, including wage payments to employees.

Andrew Harrison, ESSA director, said: “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. Businesses in the events and exhibitions sector 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. 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.”

ESSA is a constituent part of the EIA alongside AEV and AEO.

FOI responses by local authority can be viewed here and a number of case studies from companies impacted by restrictions can be viewed here.