Government announces cash for hardest-hit sectors, while businesses call for more support in the wake of the lockdown.
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 announcement follows the national lockdown.
It involves one-off top-ups for closed businesses, including:
£4k for businesses with a rateable value of £15k or under
£6k for businesses with a rateable value between £15k and £51k
£9k for businesses with a rateable value of over £51k
There is also financial support for devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
The hospitality industry said more money would be needed to prevent closures. “While this announcement is most welcome, make no mistake that this is only a sticking plaster for immediate ills,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the trade body UK Hospitality.
“It is not enough to even cover the costs of many businesses and certainly will not underpin longer-term business viability for our sector.”
Several union and business leaders called for more help for the worst-hit sectors in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown announcement.
The Federation of Small Businesses’ National Chair Mike Cherry called for more support for small businesses, saying schemes such as the business rates 100% relief are due to expire within weeks. The Federation has called for a full second round of £10,000/£25,000 Small Business Cash Grants, a German-style Revenue Loss Scheme, a Directors Income Support Scheme and help for the more recently self-employed at the same time as the SEISS Grant, and extended repayment and limits for bounce-back loans.
FSB research shows 69% of small businesses are now in debt, with 40% saying the level of debt is “unmanageable”. Many are also hit by post-Brexit challenges for which the FSB is calling for £3,000 transition vouchers for tech, training or expertise.
Cherry said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities and the economy, accounting for 60 per cent of private sector employment in the UK. The future economic recovery depends heavily on their survival in this first quarter of 2021.”