Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000, the chancellor has announced.
The news comes after the prime minister’s announcement that businesses will be closed until at least February half-term in order to help control the spread of Covid-19.
This comes in addition to the £1.1bn in further discretionary grant funding for Local Authorities, Local Restriction Support Grants worth up to £3,000 a month and the extension of the furlough scheme.
The cash is provided on a per-property basis to support businesses through the latest restrictions, and is expected to benefit over 600,000 business properties, worth £4bn in total across all nations of the UK.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “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.”
In response to the announcement, UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said the new grants are a “positive step” to keeping businesses afloat but added it is ultimately only a “sticking plaster”.
She said: “The chancellor has rightly recognised the costs imposed on hospitality businesses by enforced closures and the need for additional support. It is also encouraging that the discretionary grants address the suffering in the supply chains upon which our sector is reliant.
“However, while this announcement is most welcome, make no mistake that this is only a sticking plaster for immediate ills – it is not enough to even cover the costs of many businesses and certainly will not underpin longer-term business viability for our sector.”
She added: “To address the inevitable and existential challenges that hospitality faces, we need confirmation of extensions to the business rates holiday and of the 5% VAT rate.
“On its own, today’s support is not enough. Businesses need a longer-term economic plan and it would befit the crisis that we face if the chancellor brought forward his Budget to make the announcements necessary to reassure businesses and allow them to plan their survival. Commercial certainty cannot come soon enough and only the chancellor can deliver it.”