Northumberland B&Bs welcome financial support as bookings fall due to uncertainty on Covid restrictions

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B&B owners in Northumberland have welcomed increased financial support from the Government to help them through the winter period.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced cash grants of up to £2,100 per month to support businesses which may be adversely impacted by the restrictions in Covid-19 high-alert level areas.

They will be available retrospectively for areas who have already been subject to Tier 2 restrictions, and come on top of higher levels of additional business support for local authorities moving into Tier 3.

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The government has also increased the amount of profits covered by two forthcoming self-employed grants from 20 per cent to 40 per cent, meaning the maximum grant will increase from £1,875 to £3,750.

Northumberland B&B owners react to the announcement of new funding support.Northumberland B&B owners react to the announcement of new funding support.
Northumberland B&B owners react to the announcement of new funding support.

Katie Hogg of Westrigg B&B in Warkworth said: “We think it is generous and welcome support at this very trying time

“It only remains to be seen how the local authority see fit to distribute the grant allowances, but it is definitely good news about further Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants.

“It is very difficult as a small B&B business to operate successfully and at the same time make things safe for our guests, so this announcement gives us a boost in confidence that we can make it through difficult times.”

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It is a case of ‘wait and see’ as far as Steve and Amanda White, who run the Market Cross Guest House in Belford, are concerned.

Westrigg B&B in WarkworthWestrigg B&B in Warkworth
Westrigg B&B in Warkworth

Steve said: “While it looks positive for hospitality with the additional grants, we are waiting to see what happens when they add it a bit of flesh to the bones of the statement. Will all venues qualify? What will the qualification be?

“To be honest we have had a tremendous occupancy level from when we opened again in July to date and it is only now tailing off with the uncertainty of the North East going in to Tier 3.

“But we still have a huge deficit in our takings for the year and therefore the money we would usually have put by for the winter.”

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Danny Dagan from Belvue Guesthouse on Holy Island has noticed a downturn in the number of bookings from outside the region.

Belvue Guesthouse on Holy Island.Belvue Guesthouse on Holy Island.
Belvue Guesthouse on Holy Island.

He said: “We appreciate any help we can get from the government.

“Overall, the main issue for us at the moment is that although the number of day visitors to Holy Island is overwhelming, people are now hesitant to book overnight stays, because there is so much uncertainty.

"They are worried that we might go into Tier 3 or that they themselves will, and therefore won't be able to travel.

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"It would help a great deal if there's some sort of formal announcement as to whether Northumberland County Council is still tethered to the other authorities in the region regarding the tier it's in.”

Hay Farm House B&B, Ford and Etal.Hay Farm House B&B, Ford and Etal.
Hay Farm House B&B, Ford and Etal.

Rachel Bexon, who runs Hay Farm House B&B at Ford and Etal, is unsure whether her business, which only received a discretionary grant last time, will be eligible for support.

But she said: “I'm very happy that some will receive further assistance which will be greatly appreciated.”

After a busy summer, she has had many cancellations in recent weeks.

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“It is going to be a long winter for many,” she said. “We just have to get on with it and hope for better times in 2021.”

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A message from the Editor:

The Market Cross B&B in Belford.The Market Cross B&B in Belford.
The Market Cross B&B in Belford.

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