Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced 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.
This follows the prime minister’s announcement this week that these businesses will be closed until at least February half-term in order to help control the virus, and, the government said, “with the wide range of existing support, provides them with certainty through the spring period”.
Sunak also announced a £594 million discretionary fund made available to support other impacted businesses and a £1.1 billion further discretionary grant funding for local authorities, local restriction support grants worth up to £3,000 a month, and extension of the furlough scheme.
The government has also provided 100 per cent business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, the furlough scheme now extended to April and 100 per cent government-backed loans, extended until March.
Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s chief economist, said the more direct grants “will provide some relief to eligible companies’ cash flow” but added: “Yet with businesses facing a third lockdown, there are other steps that can help provide a bridge to the all-important economic recovery, particularly those affected through supply chains.
“For some, demand has once again evaporated overnight, and in northern England, some firms have been labouring under stop-start orders for months already.
“Therefore extending the job retention scheme to end of the second quarter would provide firms with a clear line of sight, aiding planning and investment. And removing the business rate relief cliff edge in April will provide much-needed breathing space, as will re-examining the case for VAT deferrals.”
He said: “Maintaining steadfast support for firms during this painful period will help ensure the recovery is delayed for as short a time as possible.”