Travel agents are encouraging others to apply for Local Restrictions Support Grants from their local authorities after being granted one despite confusion around which businesses they cover.
Abta said last week it was asking the government why it had made a U-turn in at first publishing guidance that travel agents counted as non-essential shops and therefore had to close under the latest lockdown in England, before removing them. If agents aren’t classified as a closed business then local authorities will not automatically consider them for a Local Restrictions Support Grant, worth up to £3,000 per month.
The government website says the grant "supports businesses that have been required to close due to temporary local restrictions".
There is also an Additional Restrictions Grant available, distributed to councils on the basis of £20 per head, for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses that do not have to close but which are impacted.
However, Mark Swords – who owns Swords Travel in Wimbledon with husband Stuart – said they’d been granted the LRSG within just a few days.
"We applied to Merton council for the LRSG late last week, and were approved this week," said Swords.
"We put ourselves in the retail category and included some supporting information about the impact the pandemic has had on our business.
"I would recommend other agents apply as we’ve obviously been successful, and I’ve spoken to other agents who’ve got it too.
"There are different tiers of the amount you can access – we didn’t get the full amount but it will certainly be a big help."
Gemma Antrobus, director of Haslemere Travel, said the agency received their LRSG last week, with no objections or even questions from the local borough council.
She added a number of other Aito Agents had also received theirs.