New lockdown grants to support businesses and protect jobs

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000, the Chancellor has announced.

This follows the Prime Minister’s announcement last night that these business will be closed until at least February half-term in order to help control the virus, and, together with the wide range of existing support, provides them with certainty through the Spring period.

The cash is provided on a per-property basis to support businesses through the latest restrictions, and is expected to benefit over 600,000 business properties, worth £4 billion in total across all nations of the UK.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “The new strain of the virus presents us all with a huge challenge – and whilst the vaccine is being rolled out, we have needed to tighten restrictions further.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve taken swift action to protect lives and livelihoods and today we’re announcing a further cash injection to support businesses and jobs until the Spring.

“This will help businesses to get through the months ahead – and crucially it will help sustain jobs, so workers can be ready to return when they are able to reopen.”

A further £594 million is also being made available for Local Authorities and the Devolved Administrations to support other businesses not eligible for the grants, that might be affected by the restrictions. Businesses should apply to their Local Authorities.

The new one-off grants come in addition to billions of existing business support, including grants worth up to £3,000 for closed businesses, and up to £2,100 per month for impacted businesses once they reopen.”

The government has also provided 100% business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, £1.1 billion existing discretionary funding for Local Authorities, the furlough scheme now extended to April and 100% government backed loans, extended until March.

Latest support measures welcomed

Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Naturally, we welcome these latest support measures – but it is important to recognise that they are only part of the solution.

“Immediate cash flow support is not going to be enough to save many businesses in Shropshire, which are facing the impossible task of trying to plan ahead, with no idea what the longer-term future holds.

“We endorse the British Chambers of Commerce call for a clear business support package to cover the whole of 2021, not just another incremental intervention.

“The Government must move away from this drip-feed approach and set out a long-term plan that allows all Shropshire businesses, whatever their shape, size or sector, to plan, and ultimately survive.”

Mr Sheehan said it was important to acknowledge that there will be many smaller firms in Shropshire which will not qualify for the full headline amounts set out by the Chancellor today.

As a result, he said they would be left struggling to see how this new top-up grant will help them out of their immediate cashflow problems.

“Support must be sufficient to cover not just those on the front line of retail, hospitality and leisure, but also firms in supply chains and wider business communities who are also feeling the devastating impacts of these restrictions.”

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