RISHI Sunak has unveiled one-off grants of up to £9,000 for struggling firms to help them get through to spring.
The Treasury revealed a fresh £4.6billion package to help retail, hospitality and leisure sector businesses cope with the seven-week shut-down.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
The extra cash help – which is on top of existing £3,000 grants – aims to help firms make it through until the spring, when restrictions will be lifted after the vaccine is rolled out.
600,000 firms are expected to be helped with the fresh offer, the Treasury said, with help available across the UK.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said this morning: “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.”
And he said more financial support may be available by the time of the March Budget.
He added: “Economic support runs through to Spring… I think the budget in early March is an excellent opportunity to take stock of the range of support.”
The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:
- £4k for businesses with a rateable value of £15k or under
- £6k for businesses with a rateable value between £15k and £51k
- £9k for businesses with a rateable value of over £51k
A further £594 million cash pot is also being made available for Local Authorities and the Devolved Administrations to support other businesses not eligible for the grants, but that still may have to close down.
The furlough scheme, which pays people 80 per cent of their wages, is already set to go on until the end of April.
But even more firms have had to shut in the latest national measures – including outdoor sports facilities like tennis courts and pools.
What help is out there businesses and for self-employed workers?
THE government has introduced the following measures to help self-employed workers and businesses during the coronavirus outbreak:
Income-tax deferrals: Self-assessment income tax payments, that were due in July, can be deferred to the end of January next year.
Rent support: Businesses who are struggling to pay their rents are protected from eviction until the end of June.
Coronavirus business interruption loan scheme: SMEs can get loans and overdrafts of up to £5million for up to six years and the government will guarantee up to 80 per of these.
Grants of up to £10,000: Small firms can get grants of up to £10,000 to help with ongoing business costs.
VAT payments: VAT payments can be deferred for three months.
Tax bill help: SMEs that cannot afford their tax bills can ask HMRC for a “time to pay” arrangement so any debt collection is suspended.
Business rates holiday: A 12-month business rates holiday has been introduced for many businesses.
Pubs can no longer sell takeaway alcohol either until at least the February half term – with the lockdown possibly extended beyond that.
The ban on takeaway pints during lockdown could be the “death knell for many pubs”, the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has warned today.
Camra chairman Nik Antona said the Chancellor’s one-off grant support of up to £9,000 for hospitality businesses was “welcome” but added: “It is nowhere near enough to cover the haemorrhaging costs for pubs and breweries.”
Urging the Government to provide a “dedicated and decent financial support package”, Mr Antona said: “The Government must recognise that local pubs are a force for good and play an important role in bringing people together, tackling loneliness and social isolation, and supporting their local communities.”
The Chancellor has already spent more than £200billion on fiscal measures to keep the economy afloat during the crisis.
Last night Boris Johnson ordered everyone in England to stay at home until mid-February as he launched an emergency shutdown to try and save Britain’s NHS.
The PM urged Brits to follow the third nationwide lockdown immediately, and once again put Brits under effective house arrest – resurrecting the ‘Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives slogan’.
And it was the new variant – which is between 50 and 70 per cent more transmissible – which has forced him to act.
Mr Johnson said people will only be allowed out of their homes to buy essential food and medicine supplies, attend medical appointments, exercise, work if it is critical and cannot be done from home and to provide care for a vulnerable person.
He also told the nation:
- People can only meet up for outside exercise with one other person from another household
- All outdoor team sports are banned except for elite sportsmen and kids still at school
- Playgrounds will remain open but outdoor gyms, tennis courts and golf courses will be closed once again
- Schools are set to stay shut across the nation until at least February half-term
- Nurseries, childcare centres and special schools will remain open
- Students will not be able to return to university and will be told to study remotely from their current residency until at least the middle of next month.
- GCSEs, A-Levels and some other exams are set to be cancelled – with further announcements due to come
- Pubs, restaurants, bars and most venues were already ordered to shut in every part of England apart from the Isles of Scilly last week and will remain closed for at least another month
- In a further blow to the battered industry, the new nationwide curbs will ban takeaway pints being served amid fears over punters clustering outside pubs. Food and non-alcohol takeaways will continue to be permitted
- In a boost for lonely Brits, support bubbles will remain in place – allowing single households to mix indoors with one other household
The PM said he was left with no option but to impose the third lockdown after being confronted with terrifying new data on how the new strain of Covid is rampaging through the country.
Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty told him the mutant virus is now in every part of the UK.
The Sun says
THE pandemic has damaged our economy more than anything in history, according to top economist Paul Johnson.
Yet, inevitably, Rishi Sunak was forced to deepen our debt by £4.6billion more yesterday to keep 600,000 firms afloat.
Britain has borrowed so much that eyes now glaze over as such vast sums are given away. But what else can the Chancellor do? Thriving businesses face ruin through no fault of their own.
In the end the Covid bill must be parked, treated as a wartime debt and paid down gradually over a generation.
And we must pray this really is a once-in-a-lifetime horror.