Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces £4.6bn lifeline for high streets

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces £4.6bn lifeline for high streets
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. (Image: Aaron Chown/PA Wires)
// 600,000 retail, hospitality and leisure sites will be able to claim a one-off grant of up to £9000
// It will cost the Treasury £4.6bn and are aimed to help support the high street amid new nationwide lockdown
// Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced a further £594m for local authorities & devolved administrations

Around 600,000 retail, hospitality and leisure sites will be able to claim a one-off grant of up to £9000, the UK Government has announced.

The payments will cost the Treasury £4.6 billion and are aimed to help support the high street as England enters a third national lockdown this week until at least mid-February.

Scotland also announced a national lockdown this week, while Wales and Northern Ireland had already implemented national lockdowns respectively before New Year’s.


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Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced a further £594 million for local authorities and devolved administrations to support businesses not eligible for the grants.

The Scottish Government will receive £375 million, the Welsh Government £227 million and the Northern Ireland Executive £127 million.

“The new strain of the virus presents us all with a huge challenge – and whilst the vaccine is being rolled out, we have needed to tighten restrictions further,” Sunak 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 payments will be based on the size of each retail store, pub, cafe or hotel tied into the business rates typically paid by each business.

The smallest sites will be able to claim up to £4000 and medium-sized ones £6000.

However, the Chancellor stopped short of extending the one-year business rates holiday, which ends once the new tax year begins in April despite calls from retail and hospitality leaders for such a move.

Other noticeable absences being called for by business groups and unions include a VAT cut and improvements to sick pay or support for working parents.

On Monday night BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The biggest difference the Government can make is to extend business rates relief from April for those hardest hit by repeated lockdowns.”

According to real estate specialists Altus Group, 401,690 non-essential shops, 64,537 pubs/restaurants, 20,703 personal care facilities and 7051 gyms and leisure centres are now closed.

The new one-off grants come in addition to grants worth up to £3000 for closed businesses, and up to £2100 per month for impacted businesses once they reopen.

The government has already provided £1.1 billion of discretionary funding for local authorities, extended the furlough scheme until April and taxpayer-backed business loans until March.

with PA Wires

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