New lockdown fund to help businesses

A new £4.6bn fund to help businesses during the latest national lockdown has been announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The package includes ‘top up’ grants for those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors which are worth £9,000 per property.

The Treasury says that the money is expected to benefit more than 600,000 business properties across the UK.

The chancellor has also announced a new £594m discretionary fund which will be made available to local authorities to support impacted businesses outside retail, hospitality and leisure. Businesses will be able to apply to their local council for the grant aid.

The moves follow Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that has placed the country into a third lockdown since the start of the pandemic, with the strict message ‘stay at home’.

All non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues are now closed with pubs and restaurants only able to provide takeaway food.

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Announcing the latest support, the chancellor said: “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.”

The Treasury says these new one-off grants come in addition to billions of existing business support, including grants worth up to £3,000 for closed businesses, and up to £2,100 per month for impacted businesses once they reopen.

The jobs furlough scheme has also been extended until the end of April and the 100 per cent government-backed loan scheme has also been extended until March.

The government has also provided 100 per cent business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.

The latest one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:

• £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
• £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
• £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of more than £51,000

The lockdown rules for England are set to be reviewed on February 15.