Written by: Keith Tully
New grants have been promised to businesses in England obliged to close during local lockdowns imposed to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Different parts of the country have been forced into stricter lockdowns in recent months and expectations are that more such measures will be made necessary throughout autumn and winter.
To counter some of the potential impacts, affected businesses in England are being promised grants worth up to £1,500 per property every three weeks, with smaller firms eligible to claim up to £1,000 on the same basis.
The scheme is designed specifically to support businesses impacted by local lockdowns and not those affected by nationwide restrictions.
Grants will be counted as taxable income and distributed on the basis of the rateable values associated with the commercial properties relied upon by the local businesses making their claims.
Local authorities will be responsible for distributing the grants and they will have the power to decide whether a particular business meets the relevant criteria for eligibility.
The government announced its grants scheme as part of its broader ‘Plan for Jobs’, which is intended to protect employment and employers in England in part through localised support for businesses directly impacted by newly-imposed coronavirus lockdowns.
“These grants provide businesses with a safety net as they temporarily close their doors to help save lives in their local areas,” said Steve Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury.
“As local economies eventually and carefully re-open after local interventions, our Plan for Jobs is there waiting to help businesses get back on their feet, protect jobs and thrive in the future,” he added.
Business lobby groups have welcomed the extra support but warned that grants of up to £1,500 every three weeks will not be enough to save significant numbers of businesses that are badly hit by localised lockdowns.
Indeed, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has highlighted the fact that roughly one in three of its members currently have three months or less of cash in reserve.
“Ministers should increase the amount on offer to ensure businesses and jobs are protected, and extend coverage to more firms that are hard-hit but not forced to close,” said the BCC’s director general Adam Marshall in a statement.
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