'Dire for hospitality in Ipswich' - grill owner hits out at hardship grants

The Grill At Twenty5, on Ipswich's St. Nicholas Street

The Grill At Twenty5, on Ipswich's St. Nicholas Street - Credit: Danielle Lett

Money isn't making its way to hospitality businesses, the owner of a much-loved Ipswich eatery has claimed. 

Tina Leamon, owner of Grill at Twenty5, has spoken out against the grants offered to Ipswich businesses, saying the criteria meant her business was unlikely to be eligible - despite hitting hard times, particularly over the festive period. 

She said: "Among other things, you had to show that your business had been affected by Covid and had a loss of at least 15%, but I found that we were closed more in the first period than in the second. 

"And let's not forget in August 2020 there was the bumper 'Eat Out to Help Out' scheme, which we continued through to November of that year just to get people through the door, so takings were soaring but we were paying out so much more."

Mother and son Tina Leamon and James Leamon of The Grill at Twenty5

Mother and son Tina and James Leamon of The Grill at Twenty5 - Credit: David Vincent

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said 41 out of 122 applications were successful to receive a part of the £150,000 grant. 

The deadline for applications was November 26 last year.

The spokesman said: "A number of qualifying criteria were set out within the policy for making awards from the Hardship Grant Fund.  

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"One of these is related to an assessment of losses. The 15% income loss assessment was based on a comparison between turnover figures (not profit) between two different 12-month periods.  

"These periods allowed businesses to demonstrate an element of pre-Covid income vs. the ongoing impact of Covid.  

"Any Covid related business grant awards were included within the turnover figures as these are taxable for income purposes." 

It was added that 109 hospitality and leisure businesses have received £300,000 between them in an earlier round of council grants, including many restaurants. 

But for Grill at Twenty5, which had more than 500 bookings cancelled during December for an estimated loss of around £28,000, questions remain. 

Mrs Leamon said: "Government stand there and say 'we're helping hospitality' and the general public make comments about 'hospitality getting more money again' when the reality is the money doesn't make its way to the businesses. 

"I don't want it to sound like we're moaning and if the criteria was fair and we didn't meet it then I wouldn't be speaking out. But it's not fair. 

"It's dire for hospitality in Ipswich - surely the council can't want any more businesses to close down - and the support, in my opinion, hasn't been good enough."