A York publican has had to close her takeaway food business after she was turned down for a lockdown grant.
Lorna Turnbull of the Bay Horse on Blossom Street says the decision was unfair and has left her feeling angry and let down.
Lorna took over the lease of the pub as a going concern on 25 January. But when the latest round of coronavirus lockdown business grants was issued last month, she was told she did not qualify – because the pub was effectively classed as a new business.
She was previously a manager of the Bay Horse before buying out the lease.
Lorna applied to City of York Council for the £12,000 grant to cover her basic costs until the end of lockdown.
But she was refused any money because she wasn’t paying rates on 5 January.
And to make things worse, the council issued her with a rates bill of £1,560.
It means she has had to cancel the takeaway food service she was running from the Bay Horse, because she can’t afford the power to cook the meals.
‘They won’t give me anything’
“I’ve been in touch with York council. And they’ve told me that because of this clause, I’m not entitled to anything at all. Nothing whatsoever,” Lorna told YorkMix.
She is dismayed at having to give up the takeaway business, which she launched as a community service.
“I was feeding people, four people for £20, throughout the lockdown to give them a little bit of something back.
“I wanted my council and my government to support that by just giving me some extra money to keep the electric going, and to keep the staff going – and they won’t give me anything.
“So that’s had to stop because I now can’t afford the electric, I can’t afford the gas. I can’t afford the water either rent, and I live here, and I have no way of paying my utility bills.
“I’m really angry that this loophole has emerged, and no one seems to care.”
She said the grants loophole was patently unfair – because the HMRC recognised the Bay Horse as a going concern, and allowed her to transfer the furlough scheme for the pub staff into her name.
“I only wanted what I was entitled to get – that every other publican in this country is going to be receiving.”
Lorna made it clear that the Bay Horse will trade again – and she hopes to open the beer garden to customers when that’s allowed from 12 April, subject to the data.
In response, Paul Sanderson, the council’s revenues & benefits manager, said: “The City of York Council Business Rates team has paid out over £84 million in grants to York businesses, but we have to follow the rules set out by the government within their qualifying criteria.
“This states that businesses must be registered and trading from 5th January 2021 to qualify for the current grants available.
“We are pleased to be able to award 100% rate relief where new qualifying businesses contact us to request this.”