As we enter what is effectively the toughest lockdown since last March, Rishi Sunak has announced an additional £4.6 billion fiscal stimulus to support businesses and protect jobs through this next phase of the coronavirus pandemic.
Commenting on this latest package of measures Mr 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”
And while any support is to struggling businesses is more than welcome, Chris Bowles, director at business advisers Old Mill says it is becoming a bit of a minefield.
“With a spiralling array of grants and loans now available, it can be difficult for business owners to know what they are and are not entitled to,” he said. “Our latest Covid-19 update explains all the grants that are available, and to whom, with links to eligibility criteria to help businesses understand what they can and can’t claim to help them get through this time of uncertainty: https://om.uk/insight/covid-19-update-government-announces-4-6-billion-in-new-lockdown-grants-to-support-businesses-and-protect-jobs/”
“This £4.6billion grant has been designed specifically to support business through this latest national lockdown,” explains Chris, “and while more detail is set to emerge, this is a summary of what we know:"
The Chancellor announced that businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure will receive new grants to help them keep afloat until spring
The grants will be worth up to £9,000 per property (see tiered breakdown below)
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
This support is in addition to business rates relief and the furlough scheme which has been extended until the end of April
Separately, £594m will be made available to affected firms outside these sectors. Businesses should apply to their Local Authorities
These one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:
- £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
- £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000
This latest package overlays a raft of other previously announced support measures which include:
- Furlough scheme - now extended to the end of April 2021
- Government-backed loan schemes - available until the end of March 2021
- Self Employed Income Support Scheme (“SEISS”) - deadline looms on 29 January 2021
Additional support grants that may be available for businesses which are legally forced to close (i.e. all non-essential retail and hospitality) – find out if yot business could benefit here: https://om.uk/insight/covid-19-update-important-changes-to-seiss-eligibility-criteria-and-local-restrictions-support-grants/
Commenting, Chris says it is more important that ever that businesses keep an ‘eye on the ball’: “Whilst I sense that there’s quite a bit of Covid-related fatigue with endless lockdowns and constantly changing rules, as we’ve seen with this latest announcement, it’s really important for business owners to keep their eye on the ball in terms of the various levels of grants and support still available.
“It’s clear that the road to recovery just got longer with many businesses potentially now facing an even tougher few months ahead, so I would encourage people to take stock and try to work out how best to navigate through this next phase and take advantage of the support measures.
“Whilst we welcome the extension of the furlough scheme, which will help some firms to pay wages and keep jobs, many businesses will also need further access to cash to cover rent or pay their suppliers and other bills… so it may be worth reviewing what’s still on offer and looking at the Local Authority route.”
“It’s interesting that the government has been quick to respond to calls from influential bodies like the Institute of Directors to bolster support for the worst affected sectors and to reinforce the discretionary grant scheme allocated through local authorities, which has helped to reach those who may have fallen through the gaps.
“So, it’s more important than ever for owner managers to stay focused and keep on top of this fast-moving situation and talk to their professional advisers regularly over the next few months.”