Suppliers are being let down by gaps in government’s support funding, says Eason

Ian Eason Instance Automatics supply chain
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Instance Automatic’s Ian Eason says that leisure supply businesses are still failing to attain adequate relief funding from government – despite being robbed of almost any prospect of revenue. Things need to change – and quickly.


Machine supply veteran Ian Eason has accused government of leaving B2B supply businesses “on the shelf” when it comes to financial support throughout lockdown.

The Instance Automatics director said that due to the fact that businesses such as his fall outside the government’s definition of hospitality, supply-chain stakeholders had been left “with virtually no help at all” throughout the present crisis: despite the fact that his entire customer- base has been legally forced into closure.

“We managed to get a discretionary grant back in April and have just applied for another,” he told Coinslot. “But these are minimal sums we’re talking about. The latest one is a one-off payment of just £1,500, which won’t help us at all.”

Indeed, Eason pointed to the approach of his own local authority, East Lindsey District Council, by way of example of how confusing and contradictory the dispensation of relief funding can be.

“We have businesses which are normally closed at this time of year receiving funding for lost revenue, and whilst this is typically a busy time of year for us, we’re getting next to nothing,” he explained. “But that’s only half the picture; It’s vital that they continue to support operators throughout the pandemic, but leaving suppliers out of the frame just shows that decision makers aren’t joining up the dots of the leisure industry. It’s illogical; you can’t run a leisure business – and probably any business in the hospitality sector – without machine supplies and equipment. The council wouldn’t support a vaccine centre without supporting the supplier of vaccines. Both sides of the business need that help; and that’s as true for our sector as it is for any.”

To make matters worse, Eason said that a similar imbalance prevailed when it came to waivers on business rate payments.

“We’re open all year around, we employ nine local people, and we supply pretty much exclusively the leisure and tourism industry,” he told us. “But as far as the council is concerned, we’re not a leisure and tourism business – and so we’re unable to claim any grants and are still obliged to pay full business rates.”

“The supply chain is in severe difficulties,” he warned. “We are not sure how long the issues will last and how long we can all survive…but looking at the statistics right now, the industry simply won’t be able to open anytime soon without ensuring leisure-adjacent supply businesses like ours are treated with some degree of equity.”

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