Businesses in England required to close due to local lockdowns or targeted restrictions will now be able to receive grants worth up to £1,500 every three weeks, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay has announced.
To be eligible for the grant, a business must have been required to close due to local COVID-19 restrictions. The largest businesses will receive £1,500 every three weeks they are required to close. Smaller businesses will receive £1,000.
Payments are triggered by a national decision to close businesses in a high incidence area. Each payment will be made for a three-week lockdown period. Each new three-week lockdown period triggers an additional payment.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay, said: “These grants provide businesses with a safety net as they temporarily close their doors to help save lives in their local areas.
“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.”
Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said more still needed to be done: “Businesses forced to close through no fault of their own will welcome any new grant support, but for most this will not be enough to offset the resulting cash crunch.
“With new local restrictions becoming more frequent, a comprehensive package of support will be needed for affected firms. More than half of Chamber members see local lockdowns as a major barrier to maintaining day-to-day operations and more than one in three have three months or less worth 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.”
The Government said its latest targeted support was in addition to the Government’s existing business support schemes, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which it said had supported the wages of 9.6 million people so far, Government-backed loans and business grants worth up to £25,000 per property.
Other measures announced to protect, support and create jobs include the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, cutting VAT for tourism and hospitality by 15%, a £2 billion Kickstart Scheme, which has opened for applications, and an £8.8 billion investment in new infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects.
The Government said businesses closed at a national level, such as nightclubs, would not be eligible for the grants.
If a business occupies a premises with a rateable value less than £51,000 or occupies a property or part of a property subject to an annual rent or mortgage payment of less than £51,000, it will receive £1,000
If a business has a rateable value more than £51,000 or part of a property subject to an annual rent or mortgage payment of more than £51,000, it will receive £1,500.
The Government said local authorities would also receive an additional 5% top-up amount of business support funding to enable them to help other businesses affected by closures which may not be on the business rates list. Payments made to businesses from this discretionary fund could be any amount up to £1,500 and may be less than £1,000 in some cases.
Local authorities will also be responsible for distributing the grants to businesses in circumstances where they are closed due to local interventions and will be allowed to determine additional eligibility criteria.
As with other COVID-19 business grants, local grants to closed businesses will be treated as taxable income.