Over three weeks since her impassioned intervention to the First Minister, which highlighted the need for a Cancellation Fund to address a change in consumer behaviour, the Member of the Welsh Parliament for Aberconwy – Janet Finch-Saunders MS – has urged the Welsh Government to review the funding support window to allow applications to be submitted urgently.
Following the Member’s calls, the Welsh Government announced a new round of the Economic Resilience Fund, to be targeted at those hospitality, leisure and attraction businesses who have been “materially impacted” by a greater than 60% reduction of turnover between 13th December 2021 and 14th February 2022. However, the ERF will not be accepting applications until the week commencing 17th January.
Meanwhile, two separate tranches of funding support to be administered by local authorities is also not accepting registrations or applications until the week commencing 10th January. Restaurants, eateries, and accommodation businesses are facing rising numbers of cancellations as the country continues to combat the new Omicron variant of Coronavirus.
Commenting, Janet said:
“As we head into the new year, a wave of cancellations continues to bite into the viability of our hospitality and tourism sectors. Whilst it is understandable that consumer behaviour has changed over the past month, the unprecedented strain being felt by businesses is putting livelihoods and employment opportunities at risk.
“Last month, in reply to my question on the issue of funding support, I was pleased to find that the devolved Government was receptive to the need for help. However, the present timeline for ERF applications ultimately fails to recognise the urgent need for funding support given that these businesses have already witnessed almost a month of suppressed trade.
“In conversations with local businesses, it is clear that clarity is required as to why a 60% reduction is required when we know that a far smaller reduction can be hugely detrimental. This is especially the case when one considers that the festive period can account to around 25% of annual turnover.
“In recognising these facts, I urge the Welsh Government to come forward with earlier dates for the opening of funding support and to review the eligibility criteria. Support must be provided now so that Aberconwy’s businesses can bridge this period.”