£5bn funding due in Budget to get stores up and running again
This week’s UK Budget is set to include £5 billion of funding for grants to struggling businesses, including shops and salons.
Around 700,00 businesses will be able to access cash grants amid warnings that a massive number of firms are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Non-essential retailers will be able to claim £6,000 per store to help them start trading again. Personal care and gym businesses will be able to claim up to £18,000 per site.
It’s unclear whether the money to be announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak will simply extend existing schemes or will be the start of a new raft of initiatives. Either way, it reflects a growing awareness by the government that funding may have carried businesses through the past year, but the Covid crisis has left many, many of them a whisker away from failure.
There have been numerous reports in the press in recent days of business owners, including retailers and hair/beauty salon operators, who were thriving pre-pandemic but are now heavily in debt and worried about the end of lockdown when those debts may have to be paid back.
Last week, the Fighting Back for Business campaign, which comprises small and medium-sized companies, wrote to Sunak urging him to write-off debts built up via government-backed loans.
And British Retail Consortium CEO Helen Dickinson said that these so-called restart grants, while vital, would “only provide temporary relief” unless the business rates holiday continues.
Sunak said of the grants: “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. 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.”
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