Plans for a £5 billion rescue scheme for the UK’s some 700,000 shops, pubs, restaurants, hotels and other businesses to have suffered at the hands of the lockdown restrictions are expected to be unveiled in the Chancellor’s budget on Wednesday.
Grants of up to £18,000 each have been drawn up as part of Rishi Sunak’s scheme to prevent mass bankruptcies for the businesses currently hanging in the balance as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to take its toll on the UK economy.
The news is expected to be announced in Wednesday’s budget amid increasing pressure on the Chancellor to postpone significant corporation tax rises.
The Retail Gazette reports that 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.
In response to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown issued last week, Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium called on Sunak to announce a “targeted business rates relief from April, as well as extend the moratorium on debt enforcement, and remove caps on Covid business grants.
“This would relieve struggling businesses of bills they cannot currently pay and allow them to trade their way to recovery,” she said.