Commenting on the support measures for business announced by the Chancellor, Business West Policy Manager Claire Ralph said:
“Businesses listened to the announcement of a third national lockdown with dismay on Monday night, especially as it was not accompanied by immediate financial support for premises forced to close with no notice.
“The Treasury have now announced a funding pot of £4.6 billion to provide one off grants of up to £9,000 per shuttered premises, based on the business rates value. This is unlikely to be sufficient to tide firms over until the easing of restrictions, whenever that may be.
“The new business grants run alongside the periodic Local Restrictions Support Grant, also distributed through local authorities. This support is welcome but for many may prove too low to cover their costs and gaps remain leaving some businesses unsupported. It makes little sense for the Government to be tight-fisted with support now when firms have depleted cash reserves and taken on much more debt during last year making them more vulnerable to further restrictions.
“Support for businesses including VAT and Income Tax deferrals, the business rates holiday and government backed loans schemes are all due to expire at the end of March need renewing. The vital furlough scheme is scheduled to end in April, after a review in March which doesn’t give employers much certainty to plan their workforces. For the most severely impacted firms who have been forced to close need more help will be needed to keep staff on the furlough scheme until the economy can safely reopen.
“Businesses have come to expect last minute announcements from this Government, so there was a certain resignation on hearing the news on Monday evening, but the constant change makes the restrictions an even more bitter pill to swallow.”