Chancellor announces £4bn support for companies plunged into third lockdown
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced £4bn in new grants for the retail, hospitality and leisure sector as the nation enters its third lockdown.
The chancellor said firms forced to close would receive one-off grants worth up to £9,000 per site to support them ‘until the spring’.
Hard-hit firms in all sectors will be able to apply for a funding pot from local authorities worth another £594m.
The package was unveiled after England, Scotland and Northern Ireland were put into lockdown to slow the spread of the virus and prevent the NHS being overwhelmed.
Swathes of the UK economy now face at least seven weeks of severely limited trade, with many firms forced to shut up shop altogether.
Mr Sunak said: “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.”
“This new grant package is welcome, and will go some way to reassuring the worst affected businesses,” said Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors.
Adam Marshall, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The lockdowns announced in England and Scotland today are a body blow to our business communities, hard on the heels of lost trade during the festive season and uncertainty linked to the end of the Brexit transition period.
“Tens of thousands of firms are already in a precarious position, and now face a period of further hardship and difficulty.”
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said retailers were set to lose £2bn in sales a week from closures, and backed calls for business rate relief beyond April.
Under then third lockdown restrictions all non-essential shops have been told to close.
The grants for closed firms will be allocated based on rateable values of the properties they operate in. Those under £15,000 will receive £4,000 per site, those between £15,000 and £51,000 will receive £6,000, and sites with a rateable value above £51,000 will receive £9,000.