£330m in Omicron grants 'unspent by councils'

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

£330m in hospitality and leisure Omicron grants 'unspent by councils'

Related tags: Coronavirus, Government, Omicron, Finance

More than half of the grant money promised to hospitality and leisure businesses in England in the wake of the Omicron variant has yet to be distributed by councils.

Analysis of official Government data by the real estate adviser Altus Group shows that just £305m of the £635m given to 309 councils had been paid out less than three weeks before the final cut off for applications on Monday 18 March.

Under the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant Scheme, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak back in December​, councils received funding to be allocated in one-off grants to businesses worth up to £6,000 to be paid to hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses in England based upon the rateable value of their properties. 

Altus Group say their analysis reveals that 29 Councils had failed to distribute a single penny whilst a further 89 Councils had distributed less than half of their total allocation in grant funding to those firms hardest hit.

Carlisle City Council and East Herts District Council had both paid to local firms less than £1 for every £10 of the funding that they had received. 

But several councils including the London Borough of Barnet, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Leicester City Council, Warrington Borough Council, Bury Council, Burnley Borough Council and Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council have actually paid out more in grants than they had received from Government ahead of the scheme closing for applications.  

Robert Hayton, UK President of Altus Group, has described the scheme as a 'post code lottery.

“These types of businesses saw one of their most valuable trading periods wiped out and simply didn’t get the support they needed quickly enough. I just hope councils rallied at the end,” he says.

All final awards and grant payments had to be made to eligible firms by 31 March, with the Government saying that any monies paid after this date will not be reimbursed under this scheme and the Local Authority will be liable for this amount.

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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