Government confirms outdoor and indoor schools eligible for restart grants despite confusion

  • GOVERNMENT restart grants to help businesses reopen safely as restrictions ease have caused some confusion as official guidance states “indoor riding schools” are eligible, when outdoor ones may also be.

    The Government announced that the scheme would support “businesses in the non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, personal care and accommodation sectors” with a one-off grant, of up to £18,000 for the latter four sectors.

    It stated that a business may be eligible if it is based in England, rate-paying, in the above sectors and trading on 1 April.The accompanying guidance includes “indoor riding schools” among the eligible businesses, leading to some schools being turned down for grants as they only had outdoor arenas.

    But a Government spokesman confirmed to H&H that this list of businesses is not exhaustive, and both indoor and outdoor riding schools are eligible.

    Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) trustee George Baber told H&H: “We’re extremely pleased. Most riding schools are currently in debt, and this will be an opportunity to give them at least a start as they enter, hopefully, a new era.

    “And of course we really don’t know what the future holds; it still looks like a bumpy road.”

    Mr Baber said he foresees some issues, as the Government said councils will be responsible for determining whether businesses are entitled to a grant.

    “The issue is that local authorities are saying ‘it says indoors and not outdoors’,” he said, adding that he will spread the word to ABRS members on the Government confirmation.

    Laureen Evans, who runs Manston Riding Centre in Kent, applied for the grant but was refused as she has no indoor arenas.

    “Ski slopes and farms where you go and visit the animals have had it, and I know someone who’s got two outdoor arenas but also an indoor for beginners, and the cheque arrived by return of post,” she told H&H.

    “It’s their good fortune and I wish them well but because I’ve got two outdoors, we haven’t had it.”

    She was delighted to hear the Government clarification, adding: “We’ve been closed all year until April, and it’s been a struggle as we’ve had all the ongoing bills; animals to feed and staff to pay as the horses still need caring for, insurance. I’m really pleased.”

    A Government spokesman confirmed both outdoor and indoor schools are eligible, as long as they meet the “leisure” definition in the guidance.

    Continues below…

    “We know this is a very challenging period for businesses across the UK, which is why we have provided an unprecedented £352bn package of support since the start of the pandemic,” she told H&H.

    “Leisure businesses, including indoor and outdoor riding schools, have been able to claim grant support throughout the pandemic, including one-off restart grants of up to £18,000 to support them as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

    “We have issued clear guidance to local authorities on business categorisation and grant eligibility, and continue to monitor them to ensure businesses are receiving the support they need.”

    Have you been turned down for the grant as you run an outdoor school? Email eleanor.jones@futurenet.com

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