Government's £6,000 grants may prove too tiny for hospitality firms in Warwickshire
BUSINESS leaders in Warwickshire have welcomed a £1billion support package for firms hit by the latest Covid restrictions.
However, there are concerns the funding will not be enough to help all the businesses that are suffering from reduced revenue as more people stay away from pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, hotels and other venues as the Omicron Covid variant continues to spread.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak today (Tuesday) announced the new measures would help the hardest hit businesses – particularly those in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England.
They will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, while more than £100m discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses.
The government has said it will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK.
A further £30m of funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund, enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for support during the winter.
Helen Peters, chief executive of Shakespeare’s England, said: “Any support from the government is always welcome, and it is good to see they have listened to the calls from businesses to provide extra help.
“But for a lot of hospitality and leisure businesses, a maximum grant of £6,000 is a tiny amount considering the huge financial pressures so many of them are facing.
“However, £1billion is a lot of money, and we are grateful that at last, some support is being offered to businesses who are seeing incomes plummet through no fault of their own.”
Sean Rose, head of policy at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The latest round of Covid-19 restrictions and guidance have been different to previous waves, as they have not seen government forcing businesses to close at this stage.
“However, it’s clear that the guidance and rise in cases is hitting confidence and, therefore, the leisure and hospitality sector is being adversely affected.
“We welcome this new support package and, as before, it’s vitally important that the money is easy to access and gets out to those businesses that need it most as quickly as possible. This could be a lifeline at what should be their busiest time of year.
“It’s not clear if there are going to be further restrictions in the coming days and weeks but it’s vitally important that, whatever happens, the government is ready to support businesses even further to help them through this difficult period.”
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chairman Mike Cherry said the government has listened to some of its suggestions.
“The government has also rightly taken forward aspects of our ten-point plan, with £1bn worth of grant support for the hardest-hit sectors, alongside accelerated delivery of the business rates relief fund for supply chains launched months ago.
“The encouragement of HMRC to give as much breathing space as possible to small firms as we head towards tax return season will also come as a relief to many.
“We’ve always said that support needs to move in lockstep with restrictions, and this intervention will help give small businesses confidence that this is the approach government will be taking.”