Third lockdown brings new government support

The government has introduced new support funding for businesses after the country entered a new national lockdown this week.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that businesses in the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors - which have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic - will be able to apply for a new top-up grant of £9,000 per property.

In addition, a £594m discretionary fund has been created to be distributed to businesses by Local Authorities and devolved administrations. 

Rain Newton-Smith, chief economiat at CBI, called for extra support: "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."

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, added: "While this immediate cash flow support for business is welcome, it is not going to be enough to save many firms. We need to see a clear support package for the whole of 2021, not just another incremental intervention.

"The government must move away from this drip-feed approach and set out a long-term plan that allows all businesses of all shapes and sizes to plan, and ultimately survive.

"Many smaller firms won’t qualify for the full headline amounts set out in the chancellor’s statement, and will be left struggling to see how this new top-up grant will help them out of their cashflow problems. Support must be sufficient to cover not just those on the front line of retail, hospitality and leisure, but also firms in supply chains and wider business communities who are also feeling the devastating impacts of these restrictions."

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