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Rishi Sunak Unveils One-off Grant for UK's Lockdown-hit Sectors

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks during a daily news conference on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at 10 Downing Street in London. (Reuters)

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks during a daily news conference on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at 10 Downing Street in London. (Reuters)

As the UK entered its tough lockdown due to a surge in infections, the finance minister said he was putting in place the extra measures worth 4 billion pounds in total to help these businesses that would now have to be shut until mid-February.

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak on Tuesday announced that businesses in the lockdown-hit sectors such as retail, hospitality and leisure are to receive a one-off grant worth up to 9,000 pounds. As the UK entered its tough new stay-at-home lockdown due to a surge in infections from a highly-transmissible new variant of coronavirus, the Indian-origin finance minister said he was putting in place the extra measures worth 4 billion pounds in total to help these businesses that would now have to be shut until mid-February.

"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," said Sunak. "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. 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," he said.

The extra 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 one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses on the basis of 4,000 pounds for businesses with a rateable value of 15,000 pounds or under; 6,000 pounds for businesses with a rateable value between 15,000 pounds and 51,000 pounds; and 9,000 pounds for businesses with a rateable value of over 51,000 pounds. The new one-off grants come in addition to billions of existing business support, including grants worth up to 3,000 pounds for closed businesses, and up to 2,100 pounds per month for impacted businesses once they reopen.

The UK Treasury department said that a further 594 million pounds is also being made available for local authorities and the devolved administrations to support other businesses not eligible for the grants, that might be affected by the restrictions. The government said it has also provided 100 per cent business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, 1.1 billion pounds existing discretionary funding for local authorities, the furlough scheme now extended to April and 100 per cent government backed loans, extended until March.

The Treasury also pointed to UK-wide measures as part of an "unprecedented package" of support for business already in place, including the various business lending schemes where the repayment terms were made easier as part of the Winter Economy Plan, and the extension of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.


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