Rishi Sunak announcement: What grants are now available for businesses affected by covid?

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On Friday, October 9 Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced changes to the Government’s financial support programmes during the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Sunak said he hopes the new measures will provide “reassurance and a safety net for people and businesses in advance of what may be a difficult winter”.

The changes to the Government’s support schemes announced on Friday mainly affect businesses which have been forced, or will be forced, to close their doors due to local lockdowns.

Swathes of England, including many regions in the North East and North West, are currently under local lockdown restrictions.

Coronavirus cases in the UK are on the rise, and reports suggest the Government is considering stricter lockdown measures in a number of areas.

The Prime Minister is reportedly considering a three-tier lockdown system, and areas placed under the highest tier would likely see business closures.

Downing Street said this week 30 percent of coronavirus cases have reported links to hospitality settings, prompting speculation the Government may close hospitality businesses in areas where coronavirus cases are high.

It is believed the PM will be making an announcement of new restrictions next week, but this week Downing Street said the Government is considering a “range of options”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing on Thursday: “We are seeing coronavirus cases rise across the entire country but they are rising faster in the North East and the North West.

“We are keeping the data under close review and we are considering a range of options to reduce the spread of the virus in order to protect communities and to protect the NHS.”

What grants are now available for businesses affected by COVID-19?

As further lockdown restrictions appear likely, this week the Chancellor announced the Government’s Job Support Scheme will be expanded.

If a business is forced to close, such as in the case of a local lockdown, Mr Sunak stated workers will receive two-thirds of their wages.

The scheme will begin on November 1 and will be available for six months, with a review point scheduled for January.

Mr Sunak said: “Throughout this crisis my priority has always been to protect jobs so today I’m announcing an expansion of our Jobs Support Scheme, specifically to protect those jobs of people who work in businesses who may be asked to close.

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“If that happens those workers will receive two-thirds of their wages for the time that they’re unable to go to work.”

In addition to extra funding for employee wages, the Chancellor also announced grants for businesses affected by local lockdowns are being increased.

The Government has been providing Local Restrictions Support Grants for businesses which have had to close temporarily due to local lockdowns.

Under the existing scheme, firms can apply for between £1,000 and £1,500, depending on their size, for every three weeks they are closed.

For the smallest firms, with a rateable value of under £15,000, that rises to £1,334-a-month for every two weeks they are closed.

Businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 to £51,000 can claim £2,000-a-month for each two weeks.

In the case of firms with a rateable value over £51,000, it rises to £3,000-a-month for each two weeks they are required to close.

A number of other Government support measures remain in place for other businesses and the self-employed.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme was recently extended, with another two grants confirmed for self-employed people affected by COVID-19.

The Government is also offering self-assessment tax deferrals and loans such as the Bounce Back Loan.

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