The UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced an “extraordinary” package in response to the coronavirus crisis, which is aimed at supporting hospitality and entertainment businesses including pubs, clubs, live music venues and theatres.
Alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak promised today (March 17) that the government would “stand behind businesses small and large,” offering “guaranteed and government-backed loans” to support various financial difficulties. He also promised a business rates holiday and help for small firms without insurance.
“For those venues which do have a policy that covers pandemics,” he said, “the government action is sufficient to allow them to make claims.” This is with regards to concerns about the impacts on pubs, clubs and theatres.
“That means any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, their salaries, suppliers or to purchase stock will be able to access a government-backed loan or credit on attractive terms.” Sunak added that if further financial support was required, it would be provided.
The Chancellor told a press conference it was an “economic emergency,” before adding: “Never in peacetime have we faced an economic fight like this one.”
For small and medium-sized businesses the government will extend business interruption loan schemes from £1.2 million up to £5 million, with no interest due for first six months. Sunak assured that these initiatives would be in place from the start of next week (March 23).
The Chancellor said he was extending the business rates holiday to all firms in the hospitality sector and funding grants of up to £25,000 for smaller businesses. He also said mortgage lenders will offer a three-month mortgage holiday to those in financial difficulty due to coronavirus.
Earlier today, The Music Venue Trust called on the UK government to cancel the Festival Of Britain and use the funding to secure the future of Britain’s grassroots culture amid the coronavirus crisis.
“What we’ve asked is for them to cancel the Festival Of Britain 2022, for which there is already a £122million culture budget allocated,” the Music Venue Trust’s CEO Mark Davyd told NME. “We want them to take that money and put it into a cultural infrastructure hardship relief fund. That money is sufficient to support venues during a temporary period of closure.”