Delight as riding schools get funds after confusion *H&H Plus*

  • After H&H found out last week that both indoor and outdoor riding schools were eligible for Government restart grants, councils have been revisiting previous decisions and agreeing to making payments. We find out more

    RIDING schools have been told they are going to be sent significant payouts in restart grants, having been initially told they were not eligible.

    H&H reported last week that official guidance on eligibility for the grants was causing confusion, as it said “indoor riding schools” could apply. This led to some councils turning down businesses that did not have indoor schools.

    But a Government spokesman confirmed to H&H that both outdoor and indoor schools are eligible, for a one-off payment of up to £18,000.

    H&H contacted Canterbury City Council after Andrew Payne, owner and manager of Trenley Park Liveries in Canterbury, was turned down for the grant as his was “not an indoor facility”. Within days, he was told he would get the payment.

    A spokesman for the council told H&H: “We are aware of this particular case and are in the process of reviewing it and a number of others as quickly as we can, having received clarification from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy about how the rules should be applied.

    “Where we have all of the information we need from the affected businesses, we will send the money they are owed in the next available payment run. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worked really hard to get this Government cash into the bank accounts of eligible businesses as quickly as we can because we know how important it is to them.

    “We are proud to have played our part and are sorry businesses have been inconvenienced by this blip.”

    Mr Payne told H&H: “Thank you so much, you can not imagine what a difference this will make to the horses.

    “It seems mad as I’d emailed several times and was at my wits’ end. This will make a huge difference.”

    Laureen Evans of Manston Riding Centre, Kent, who H&H reported last week had also been told she was ineligible as she did not have an indoor arena, was also delighted to be told this week she could expect her payment.

    Scottish riding schools have not been as lucky; the Scottish Government has said that as they were not forced to close – they were allowed to run individual lessons during lockdown – they were not eligible for restart grants.

    But Sonya Cunningham, of Rockrose Equestrian in East Lothian, has also been turned down for the support, although her competition centre did have to close fully.

    “We had the police here three times to make sure we weren’t doing anything,” she told H&H.

    “We run competitions and clinics, and had to close fully. We were unable to trade at all, but restaurants that could still do some trade with takeaways are eligible for grants. That’s my frustration.”

    A Scottish Government spokesman said the Government has delivered over £3.6bn in support to businesses during the pandemic.

    “This included business restart grants, directed to businesses specifically required to close,” he said. “These grants were to support those businesses with the costs of re-opening. As riding schools were not specifically required to close by law they were not eligible.

    “We have made additional funding available to businesses through our £120m local authority discretionary fund, which continues to empower local authorities to direct financial support to businesses in their area unable to access other forms of financial support. The use of this funding is entirely at the discretion of local authorities based on the specific needs of their local economies.”

    If you own a riding school and have been turned down for the grant, please email eleanor.jones@futurenet.com

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