Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced new emergency support for non-essential businesses affected by England's third national lockdown, which is expected to last until at least the middle of February. Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive up to £9,000 in one-off grants per property to help them through latest coronavirus restrictions. The support package is expected to cost £4bn in total across the UK, with an estimated 600,000 properties expected to benefit.
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 one-off grants for closed businesses will mean up to £4,000 for premises with a rateable value of £15,000 or under, £6,000 for those rated between £15,000 and £51,000, and £9,000 for properties rated at over £51,000.
The announcement follows calls from business groups, including the British Retail Consortium, to offer support to those affected by the latest measures. Responding to the new government lockdown yesterday, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: "Retailers have been playing their part to make stores safe, spending hundreds of millions of pounds on coronavirus safety measures, including implementing social distancing measures and increased cleaning procedures."
She added: "The biggest difference the government can make is to extend business rates relief from April for those hardest hit by repeated lockdowns."
A further £594m cash pot is also being made available for Local Authorities and the Devolved Administrations to support other businesses not eligible for the grants, but that still may have to close down.
In response to news that Scotland will receive £375m as part of this additional support package for retailers and hospitality businesses affected by the latest lockdown, Scottish Retail Consortium director, David Lonsdale, said: “It’s vital a fair portion of these newly devolved funds are swiftly used to prop up so-called non-essential retailers here in Scotland whose businesses are balanced on a knife edge whilst prevented from opening."