‘Cash handouts may not be enough to keep us afloat’

BUSINESS owners have warned Government grants will not be enough to keep hospitality venues afloat across Southend and more is needed in the wake of Tier 4 restrictions.

Vast parts of the county – including all of south Essex – were plunged into Tier 4 Covid-19 restrictions on Saturday amid a worrying rise in cases.

And Southend restaurants, which were forced to close alongside pubs and cafes last week under Tier 3 rules, fear that current grants are not enough to keep them afloat.

However, in Basildon council bosses insisted on Friday they are “going further than anywhere else in the UK to support hospitality”.

Two cash pots were set up to support businesses affected by lockdowns and tier restrictions in Southend.

Seafront business admitted Tier 4 “will not make much difference” after Tier 3 wreaked havoc.

Adem Lacin, who owns Love Thy Burger, in Southend High Street, said although he is yet to receive his grant after Southend was placed in Tier 3, he believes the support is unlikely to be enough.

He said: “Every little helps, it’s not a huge amount of money – we are a high street business we could do with more. We have rent to pay, bills to pay, overheads to pay but it’s better than nothing.”

“I suspect that many won’t survive without further support. I hope that customers can continue to support businesses by ordering takeaway and delivery.”

Joan Tiney, 69, who runs the Borough Hotel and chairs the Southend Seafront Traders’ Association, said she received a £2,000 grant for November but said when lockdown eased on December 2, the pub could not re-open because it does not serve food.

She said: “We don’t know how long we are going to be closed for.

“You take more money in December than in November. In the pub trade during Christmas time you can take £2,000 on a Christmas Eve lunch time.”

Andrew Ferguson, co-owner of Mile and a Third, a craft beer bar and shop, in Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff said the business was given a £10,000 grant in the first lockdown and more recently received £1,300.

He said: “The first one was OK but the second one isn’t even a week’s trade.”

Basildon Council agreed to extend applications to January 10 to provide additional one-off payments on top of grant payments, and give a one-off ‘Additional Restrictions Grant’ to all qualified businesses for ‘Localised Restrictions Grant’.

Prior to Saturday’s announcement, which could see additional help, Gavin Callaghan, leader of Basildon Council, said: “I believe we are going further than any other council to support our hospitality and leisure businesses when they need it most.”

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