Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed that new financial relief would be offered to support businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England to the tune of £4bn.
The news comes as England heads into its third national lockdown, with schools across the country closed until February half-term and restaurants, theatres and hotels shuttered in all areas.
One-off grants for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses will be worth up to £9000 per business.
Commenting on the grants Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chair Mike Cherry said: "While this additional financial support will be a lifeline to 600,000 businesses and therefore has value, there is a need for a plan that matches the scale of the economic damage we are seeing.
"For many it just won't be enough for businesses who are already under the cosh and on the brink.
"These funds come after a disappointing festive period and are followed by a last minute lockdown and do not go far enough to match the scale of the crisis that small firms are facing.
"There remain too many groups who need more support to weather this storm such as the newly self-employed, those in supply chains and company directors.”
FSB wrote to the Chancellor just before Christmas with a five-point plan to save the small business community and help it get through the toughest Quarter One of any year that they have ever faced, providing a bridge to a vaccine-enabled recovery from Easter. This includes:
- a full second round of £10,000/£25,000 Small Business Cash Grants
- a German-style Revenue Loss Scheme
- a Directors Income Support Scheme
- help for the more recently self-employed
- extended repayment and limits for bounce-back loans
Mike Cherry added: “It must not be forgotten that all this comes at a time where 69% of small businesses are now in debt, with 40% saying the level of debt is “unmanageable”. Many are trying to navigate the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU, which to avoid tariffs adds further bureaucracy and cost pressures. This is why support should be given to small businesses through £3,000 transition vouchers for tech, training or expertise.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities and the economy, accounting for 60 per cent of private sector employment in the UK. The future economic recovery depends heavily on their survival in this first quarter of 2021.”
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