The UK government has announced a new set of one-off financial grants to help support retail, hospitality and leisure businesses during the latest coronavirus lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed last night (January 4) that England would be entering a new lockdown due to surging coronavirus case numbers and hospital admissions. Scotland also went into a separate lockdown at midnight last night.
The lockdown has forced the closure of all non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues, while pubs and restaurants are only allowed to offer takeaway food.
These latest measures have prompted the government to offer one-off grants of up to £9000 per property for businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure in a bid to help them stay afloat during this latest lockdown, which is expected to last until mid-February in England. Scotland’s lockdown will be reviewed at the end of January.
These grants are in addition to business rates relief and the furlough scheme, which has been extended until the end of April. It’s estimated that 600,000 businesses are expected to benefit from these new grants.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak also confirmed that £594 million will be made available to affected firms outside these sectors, with a total of £4.6 billion set to be distributed to firms and industries across the UK through these new measures.
“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,” Sunak said.
“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.”
Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said of the grants: “This new grant package is welcome, and will go some way to reassuring the worst affected businesses.
“The path of the virus is extremely uncertain, and government must be agile in its response to prevent lasting economic damage.”
Last night’s lockdown announcement has also forced changes to GCSE and A-Level exams in England which are due to take place later this year.