Chancellor announces £4.6bn support package for businesses

Rishi Sunak has announced that £4.6bn in new lockdown grants will be made available to UK businesses.

The Chancellor confirmed the government would provide one-off “top-up grants” for around 600,000 businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, which can each claim up to £9,000.

The move comes after the Prime Minister last night announced tougher lockdown restrictions for England which will see many businesses forced to close until at least February half-term in order to help control the spread of coronavirus.

The Treasury said the cash will be provided on a “per-property basis” to support firms through the latest restrictions, worth £4bn in total across all nations of the UK. Sunak revealed that £594m is also being made available for local authorities and the devolved administrations to support other businesses not eligible for the grants, that might be affected by the latest restrictions.

He commented: “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.”

However, CBI group director-general, Tony Danker, has called for a broader range of support and stated that the government needs to acknowledge the economic impact of the new lockdown restrictions is “significant”.

“There are now a number of imperatives for government to support business,” he said. “First, ensuring firms have the cashflow to make it through. Extending existing support has helped, but a broader range of measures will need to tackle this further hit to revenues.

“Second, the government must review and plug any coverage gaps from existing support that are now further exposed, for example in supply chains.

“And third, firms must have a clear line of sight and assurance that support will be there for as long as restrictions are in place so that they can stay the course rather than act precipitously.”

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