To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has plans to relax the qualification requirements for applicants to the Zoo Animals Fund.
Defra has already made the Zoo Animals Fund more accessible than the previous fund, the Zoo Support Fund. We have expanded the eligibility criteria so that grant payments to zoos begin when zoos reach their final 12 weeks of financial reserves, rather than 6 weeks. We also lifted the payment cap from £100k to £700k and then removed this cap at the end of the implementation period when we were no longer subject to EU state aid rules.
Defra has also expanded the range of costs that are eligible under the Zoo Animals Fund so zoos can now claim costs relating to pre-planned essential maintenance and repair works as well as animal care costs. The fund has also been extended in response to the current lockdown, with applications open until 28 May and support provided until 30 June.
We will continue to monitor the fund to ensure that it achieves its aims. We will continue to engage with the sector to fully understand the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on the sector and provide updates as situations change.