Help for the High Street

Much-needed help for High Street businesses to reopen has been announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Sunak announced a £5billion plan to help shops and hospitality firms to reopen their doors, with grants worth up to £18,000 per business becoming available.

The so-called restart grants will replace the current monthly grant system, and will be distributed by local authorities directly to eligible businesses from April. It is thought that up to 700,000 firms will benefit, including shops, hotels, restaurants, hair and beauty salons, gyms and other hospitality businesses. Non-essential shops and businesses offering outdoor hospitality will be allowed to re-open from April 12th under the current government timetable.

Mr Sunak said the measures would give small businesses the “support they need to get them through, get them back on their feet.” Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the scheme as a “much-needed lifeline” in the face of a huge shift to online shopping and the loss of up to 180,000 retailing jobs over the last twelve months.

A group of MPs is also calling on Mr Sunak to introduce a “loss carry-back” scheme, which would allow previously profitable businesses and self-employed workers to offset losses incurred during the pandemic and enable them to claim a refund against corporation tax already paid.

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