Chancellor unveils £4.6bn lockdown grants

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced £4bn funding for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night announced a third national lockdown for England, following similar measures put in place by the devolved administrations. Retail, hospitality and leisure business will be closed until at least February half-term in an attempt to control the virus.

More than 75,000 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test and there have been 2.7m cases. Both figures have been rising sharply and yesterday there were 407 deaths and 58,784 new cases reported.

The one-off top up grants are worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the spring.

A £594m discretionary fund is also being made available to support other impacted businesses.

Sunak said: “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 Treasury claimed the latest support, along with previously-announced support including the furlough scheme, “provides them with certainty through the Spring period”.

The cash is provided on a per-property basis to support businesses through the latest restrictions, and is expected to benefit over 600,000 business properties.

The funding is for closed businesses and is to be allocated based on the property’s rateable value. It will provide £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under, £6,000 when the rateable value is between £15,000 and £51,000, and £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of more than £51,000.

The £594m fund will be distributed by local authorities and the devolved administrations “to support other businesses not eligible for the grants, that might be affected by the restrictions”.

Sunak added: “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.

“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.”

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