Today’s announcement has bought little comfort for many leisure and gym-based businesses who must remain closed until concerns about their ability to open safely are resolved.
Dominic Muscat, general manager of serviced office provider Bucks Biz is calling on the Government to do more to support the leisure sector, many of whom are facing the threat of closure unless they are able to reopen soon.
“Whilst the government funding throughout lockdown was incredible – we supported nearly 300 of our customers to secure the Small Business Grant Fund – I feel the government’s blanket approach has left a number of businesses vulnerable.”
“A sum of £10,000 was paid to all qualifying business, however there was no consideration given to the scale of their business and their overheads. Some small businesses with very low overheads were awarded the same grant as medium sized businesses with dramatically higher overheads. Some businesses did very well out of the situation and others are highly likely to fold unless the Government steps in to provide more assistance to the businesses the government has not allowed to open. Plus, many of these businesses cannot benefit from rates relief as they already claim it, so their only option is the interruption loan which they won’t be able to pay back if they won’t have a business at the end. The government is making these businesses close by law. Therefore there should be additional funding in place for these businesses to survive.
“For example, Bucks Biz is home to a number of gyms as we are able to offer the large units that they need and the ability to customise the space to suit their business. This sector is incredibly vulnerable – they’ve received the same level of funding as a business with a two person unit that’s been able to operate the entire time, yet they’ve got a huge unit to pay for and they’ve had to remain closed. One of our gyms is a Community Interest Company, and they have a robust plan in place to allow them to offer classes whilst maintaining a social distance, yet they aren’t able to do so because the rules state that they can’t. Whilst the grant funding was a lifeline to many, we feel that more needs to be done to help keep these businesses alive until the lockdown is fully lifted.”