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Campaign for Fair Funding

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This letter has been drafted by the very clever Cat from Warrior Works (thank you, Cat!), and rejigged a little by Holly Mcfee to reflect Yoga Hero’s current status, and for it to make sense coming from you, you wonderful wonderful heroes.

There’s two main reasons to send this letter to your MP – if you live in an area covered by Leeds Council:
1) It’s just downright unfair that a whole industry has been removed from receiving funding
2) The industry is on its knees; the funding is vital to keeping many leisure businesses in Leeds open for business

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To send to your  MP

Below is our suggested email to send to your MP. If you’re not sure who your MP is, or what their contact details are, use the button below to find your MP and their best contact details. Simply copy and paste the below in to an email, send to your MP and cross your fingers and toes!

From the bottom of our hearts: Thank you.

 

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Campaign for Fair Funding email:

Please copy from here to the bottom of the page, and email to your MP 

 

I am writing as I have serious concerns regarding how Leeds City Council (“LCC”) has decided to distribute the funds allocated from central Government under the Local Restrictions Support Grant (the “LRSG”), which currently excludes the Leisure industry from making claims.

I need your help in ensuring that this issue is raised in Parliament and/or that the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (“BEIS”) clarifies whether it considers it appropriate to completely exclude an industry which it specifically named as being eligible for support under the LRGS.

I have set out my concerns in further detail below but in summary:

  • You will be aware that LCC received £7,939,091 intended to support certain classes of businesses which suffered financially under the Tier 2 restrictions.
  • The grants assigned to LCC were to be designated to the hospitality, tourism and leisure industries which have been identified as suffering considerable financial hardship.
  • LCC has set a eligibility criteria which inappropriately excludes the leisure industry in its entirety from making a claim at this time.Our industry is focused on health (both physical and mental). In a global pandemic, it is unfathomable that LCC would offer no support to an industry focused on keeping people healthy which in turn has the potential to ease pressure on our stretched NHS.

We cannot allow LCC to set this precedent as it could mean that we are excluded from future grants in relation to impending Tier 3 restrictions. Put simply, the industry will not withstand being overlooked again.

 

Background

On 12 November 2020 BEIS published the following eligibility criteria for the LRSG:

“Your business may be eligible if it:

  • is based in England
  • is in an area subject to ‘High’ or ‘Very High’ local restrictions since 1 August 2020 and has been severely impacted because of the local restrictions
  • was established before the introduction of Local COVID alert level: High restrictions and has not had to close but has been impacted by local restrictions

Local councils have the freedom to determine the precise eligibility criteria for these grants. However, we expect the funding to be targeted at hospitality, hotel, bed & breakfast and leisure businesses. [emphasis added]

 

On 22 November 2020 Leeds Council published its eligibility criteria:

“To apply for this grant, your business must:

  • be in Leeds
  • be trading as a hospitality venue (for example, a cafe, bar, or social club) or an accommodation provider (for example, a hotel or campsite) be occupying premises registered for business rates during tier 2 (COVID alert level ‘high’) restrictions introduced on 25 September 2020” 

 

The grant available is between £1,401 and £3,160 per month retrospectively depending on rateable value. Many leisure businesses need this money in order to be able to continue to trade.

 

The Impact of LCC’s Decision 

The leisure industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and has sadly received minimal support to date. The industry has not had the benefit of schemes such as “Eat Out to Help Out”, and social distancing measures have crippled our ability to generate revenue.

When operating in Tier 2; Yoga Hero was operating at 50% capacity, to allow for 2 meters between each mat. Not only this but it was necessary to run fewer classes to allow time to completely disinfect the studio between classes. Rent, pay for teachers and other costs (VAT< sanitisation, software, insurance costs etc have remained the same for this period.

The leisure industry, in the main, provides safe, socially distanced classes and demand has been high, particularly for those struggling most from the isolating effects of lockdown measures. Without grant support in medium term, businesses will fail, and this clearly wanted and needed physical and mental health outlet will no longer be available.

 

The Decision Making Process

The report to the Director of City Development, available here: https://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?ID=52499  sets out how the grants “should be” applied according to Government guidance.

The decision clearly sets out that the leisure industry “should” benefit from the LRSG. There is no explanation as to why leisure was excluded so LCC cannot be considered to have made this decision in line with the Government prescription for “good reason”.

The rationale for including hospitality and hotels refers to the impact of restrictions relating to “groups of people permitted to meet inside”. The leisure industry has suffered equally from this and it is common sense to conclude that this is exactly which the industry was named by BEIS as one which should benefit from the scheme.

I would further argue that the current decision of LCC goes beyond what might be permitted if there were good reason, such as the allocation of a lower “different level” of funding, but instead seeks to exclude this industry wholesale.

The Decision refers to a consultation with LHVA. It is unclear what, if any, consultations were made from bodies representing the leisure industry. Had this occurred, perhaps the outcome would have been different.

 

Action

I would respectfully request that LCC’s decision is revisited taking into account all of the above, and ask for your support in ensuring that happens. Alternatively, clarification should be sought from BEIS on LCC’s approach given the significant impact it will have on an entire industry in Leeds.

Whilst I accept that it is at LCC’s discretion how to distribute the funds and there is a limited amount available, the decision it has taken is completely unjustifiable. The funds should have been split equally or given to businesses with the greatest need. Central Government was clear in setting out which businesses were intended to receive this support and leisure was to be included.

LCC’s current decision sends a clear message to the industry and to taxpayers that health is the bottom of its priorities and an industry that it is happy to watch collapse. I implore you to help support our industry, as our industry supports the health of your constituents.

I appreciate you taking the time to hear my concerns and look forward to receiving your response and support in changing LCC’s recent decision to exclude the leisure industry from support grants.

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