Chancellor announced increases in financial support for businesses yesterday to support businesses affected by COVID restrictions.
Sunak highlighted that the current three-tier approach to introducing lockdown measures was ‘the right way to control the spread of the virus’. However, he acknowledged that ‘even businesses which remain open face profound economic uncertainty.’
So far, enhanced support has only been on offer to those businesses placed in the highest level of alert, tier three.
Sunak said the government is making three changes to existing support schemes in response.
First, there is a new support scheme for businesses in tier two areas, with funding for local authorities to distribute grants in a flexible manner to those worst affected.
Every business premises will be eligible for up to £2,100 each month they are under tier two restrictions. And the payments are retrospective for any area which has been under these rules since August.
These grants could benefit around 150,000 businesses in England, including hotels, restaurants, B&Bs and others which are not legally required to close but have been adversely affected by local restrictions nonetheless.
Second, for businesses which have not been legally required to close but which are suffering an impact from tier two restrictions, the JSS rules have been amended.
The government has reduced the minimum number of working hours from 33% to 20%. So those working just one day a week will now be eligible.
The employer’s contribution to wage costs under the JSS for those not working is reduced from 33% to 5%, with the business based in all alert levels eligible.
Third, the government was doubling the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS) grant from 20% of previous earnings to 40%, to a maximum of £3750 per month.
Authorities will pay grants in two lump sum instalments each covering three months. The first grant will cover a three-month period from the start of November 2020 until the end of January 2021.