finance

Chancellor reveals new £4.6bn lockdown fund, £9,000 grants and furlough extension


Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a fresh business support package to help firms through the third lockdown.

It includes one-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the Spring, along with a £594m discretionary fund also made available to support other impacted businesses

Business support is a devolved policy and therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations, with the Scottish Government receiving £375m.

The support comes in addition to £1.1bn further discretionary grant funding for local authorities, with Local Restriction Support Grants worth up to £3,000 a month and an extension of furlough scheme.

The moves follow Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirming a new lockdown on Monday night – but with no mention of any new support for business.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also announced new lockdown measures yesterday, warning that anyone who is able to work from home must do so, and asking businesses take the new law as seriously as in March last year, as the situation is “at least as serious now as it was then”.


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The new government 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 £4bn in total across all nations of the UK.

Sunak said: “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.

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“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.”

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.

Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, welcomed the new package, in particular the Treasury having taken on board recommendation to increase the discretionary local authority grant fund.

“This policy has helped to reach those who haven’t been able to access other support – the government should be prepared to top up the fund if necessary.

“The Chancellor must remain wary of a Spring cliff-edge in business support as the furlough scheme and other support measures unwind,” Barker warned.

“Businesses will also be keen for the government to continue setting out its plans for the vaccine roll-out, to support their planning.”

Business owners have continued to sound the alarm about the new measures closing shops and issuing stay at home orders will have on their finances.

Those who cannot work due to the coronavirus rules can still be furloughed under the current rules – which are due to end in the spring. There are also continuing loans, grants and tax rule relaxations for businesses and the self-employed.

Sunak unveiled his first a package of financial measures – including loans worth £330bn to help businesses through the crisis – on March 17 last year.

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Three days later, he set out the coronavirus job protection scheme, with the government covering 80% of the wages of staff not working, up to £2,500 a month.

Last October, Sunak announced that workers in pubs, restaurants and other businesses forced to close under new restrictions would have two-thirds of their wages paid by the government.

In November, he told the Commons that the furlough scheme was being extended until the end of March in a major u-turn.



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