The UK Government has announced £4.6 billion in new lockdown grants to support businesses and protect jobs. Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are set to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000.
The news follows the Prime Minister’s announcement last night that these businesses, which include non-essential retail, must be closed until at least February half-term, as England enters a full lockdown period to combat the coronavirus pandemic whilst the vaccination programme is rolled out, starting with the most vulnerable groups.
The cash will be 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.
The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:
"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" commented Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.
"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 British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), has voiced concerns that the additional support package will not be enough to sustain retailers through the new national lockdown in England. "The extra support cannot come soon enough. And while we certainly welcome the extra money being provided to closed businesses, on top of the existing grants, the problem is that we have no end date to this lockdown" said Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO.
"Our fear is that this will not be enough to help businesses survive and protect those all important jobs. The Government need to keep an open mind and be prepared to offer more support if this lockdown looks like being longer than they envisage at the moment. We would also like to see the interest-free period for loans extended and the issue of longer-term business rates relief addressed so that businesses can plan ahead."