// The government to offer businesses grants of up to £18,000 each
// Chancellor Rishi Sunak hinted at an extension to the furlough scheme
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to offer 700,000 shops, pubs, restaurants, hotels and other businesses, grants of up to £18,000 each as part of a £5 billion rescue scheme.
The scheme aims to prevent mass bankruptcies for stricken businesses as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to hammer the economy.
The news is set to be announced in Wednesday’s budget as Sunak faces increasing pressure to avoid or postpone significant corporation tax rises.
Separately, Sunak has reportedly hinted at an extension to the furlough scheme but warned he will “level” with the public over the economic toll of the pandemic.
Income tax thresholds could be frozen until 2024, with corporation tax rising and a new levy on online deliveries, Sky News reported.
Last week almost 400 leaders of small and medium-sized firms from the “Fighting Back for Business” campaign wrote to the Chancellor calling for debts accrued through government-backed loans to be entirely written off.
Under the budget plans, non-essential retail businesses will be eligible for direct cash grants of up to £6000 a site to help them start trading again when allowed to do so.
“Our local businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic – which is why we went big and went early with a multibillion pound package of support,” Sunak said.
“There’s now light at the end of the tunnel and this £5 billion of extra cash grants will ensure our high streets can open their doors with optimism.”
Sunak’s budget is expected to see the total cost of Covid-related business, employment and other support measures rise to more than £300 billion.