Hard-hit retail and hospitality businesses in Wallingford have benefitted from the Government's 'restart' funding.

New figures show South Oxfordshire businesses have been given more than £2 million to help reopen as lockdown restrictions are eased.

The funding from the Government's £5 billion Restart Scheme has been welcomed by council leaders who have urged councils to act quickly in getting the money distributed.

Latest figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show South Oxfordshire District Council had issued £2.8 million in grants to 335 businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors under the scheme up to the end of May.

It came from a £7.5 million pot given to the council, which leaves £4.7 million to still give away by the end of July.

The scheme, opened in April, was designed to boost the economy ahead of the lifting of restrictions.

It offers one-off grants up to £6,000 for non-essential retail businesses and up to £18,000 for firms in the hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym sectors.

Landlord of the Town Arms in Wallingford, Jim Crowder, said his business applied for the 'restart' funding and said business is running well and that people are rushing to book rooms.

Mr Crowder said: “Business is running fine, it has not been a problem at all, obviously Covid has not been fantastic, but we have tried to stick within the rules as best we can, and we have had a really positive response from the local community.”

The pub has even used government grants to adapt the pub by putting in more tables and installing some outside booths to help with social distancing.

thisisoxfordshire: Wallingford Town Centre is now open for business.
Picture by Ed Nix

The Corn Exchange marketing director John Evans explained that the theatre and cinema was helped significantly with funding from BFI, which offered funding to independent cinemas.

The funding helped the venue reopen and start showing films every day, however, the cinema is still at a loss.

Mr Evans said: “I think the audiences in May were pretty good, we could only accommodate up to 80 people and our full capacity is 176 so the revenue is down quite a lot.”

Despite the amounts paid out, business leaders have complained some councils have been too slow to pass on the money applied for by businesses.

The British Beer and Pub Association said delays in payments had worsened a situation for members already hit by the delay in the lifting of restrictions for indoor hospitality.

A spokesperson added: "With the delay to July 19 for a full reopening of our sector, more support is needed in the form of grants."

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on news@nqo.com or 01865 425 445.