Is your Local Authority (LA) delaying or denying the personal care sector access to the ARG?
What is the ARG?
The Additional Restrictions Grant was announced in December as additional support to businesses on the back of the Omicron Covid wave local authorities are distributing it.
HM Treasury specifically intended the grant to be made available to the personal care sector. For proof, see page 6, paragraph 28 of the government guidance for local authorities here, where the personal care sector, including hair, beauty and barbering, is specifically named:
Can’t the government force LAs to make the fund available?
Unfortunately, the ARG is a discretionary fund, and local authorities make decisions on distribution with reference to their local needs and context. The UK Government cannot oblige or force local authorities to use the fund in a certain way, only encourage them through the guidance.
The Secretary of State for Business Kwasi Kwarteng has recently written to local authorities who have more than 5% leftover from previous ARG funding rounds, instructing them to disburse any remaining funding. Business Minister Paul Scully has also urged local councils to get grants to businesses as soon as possible.
A few points to check before applying:
1. Got the right ARG? Check that you’re looking at the information on your local authority website about the ARG grant. Some LAs call it the ARG, others Additional Restrictions Grant or local discretionary grant. Ensure that you’re looking at the latest version of this, as there have been previous versions of the grant. The website information is likely to be dated within the last two months. Speak to your local authority for more information.
2. Got the right fund? Be aware that the ARG is different from the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant, which is specifically for the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors. Check that you are looking at the correct information and applying for the right grant.
3. Eligibility criteria: some local authorities have additional eligibility criteria, e.g. you need business premises to pay business rates or other criteria that vary from local authority to local authority.
Why aren’t funds getting through to the sector?
Some local authorities have decided to either prioritise other sectors, e.g., hospitality, accommodation, and tourism or exclude personal care services. In the majority of cases, it appears that local authorities are still working on how to administer the funds and are delaying making funds available.
What shall I do next?
If your local authority has told you that the sector is ineligible or delaying access to funds, please use this draft letter to the elected leader of your local council copying in your local MP.
Willing to talk to the media about your experience?
The NHBF has put out a press release naming and shaming those local authorities that are not distributing funds to the sector. Let us know if you are interested in being a case study for the media?
Simon Moore from Litmus Hair, Truro – Cornwall had a conversation with their local counsellor. Cornwall Council have said they will be reversing the decision and now including personal care in the ARG grant.
Mandy Lodge-Stewart, NHBF Vice President shared that Kirklees Council have made the decision to now include personal care.
Kevin Huggins, NHBF Board Member and owner of Fusion Hair, Great Yarmouth has spoken with their MP and personal care is now included in Great Yarmouth Council's ARG grants.
What is the NHBF doing to ensure the sector has access to the grants?
- We ran three snap polls in December about the impact of Omicron that helped us secure further financial support to the sector.
- NHBF wrote to Paul Scully, Small Business Minister, encouraging him to make sure that local authorities make the grants available to the sector.
- We followed up with a joint sector letter to Paul Scully and individual local authorities to encourage them to target the sector.
- We wrote a joint sector open letter to the Chancellor recently pointing out that the funds aren’t reaching the sector in the way it was intended.
- We issued a joint press release with the British Beauty Council naming and shaming those local authorities that are denying or delayed support to the sector.
- We issued press releases to local media where the local authorities have denied or delaying support to the sector.
- We are advising Members who have secured conversations or meetings with their local MPs with key information and data on the impact that Omicron had on the hair and beauty sector.
- We’re facilitating you contacting your local authority to ask them to reconsider how the funds are being targeted locally.