Latest Covid lockdown package needs to go further

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses forced to close by the latest lockdown rules can get one-off grants worth up to £9,000/property to help them through to spring.

However, business representatives have called for extensions to business rate holidays, VAT measures and government Covid-19 loan schemes, and also criticised the continued lack of support for many self-employed people.

See also: diversification case studies and advice

Announcing the most recent measures, chancellor Rishi Sunak said the grants were worth £4bn in total. He expects them to benefit more than 600,000 business properties, some of which will be diversified farm businesses.

The lockdown will last at least until mid- February and the grants apply across the UK, with businesses being asked to apply to their local authorities.

However, offering the cash grants on a property basis has already come in for criticism, as many businesses do not operate from properties in the sense of this scheme.

There has also been widespread concern about the short-term nature of the support, with fears that nothing further may come until the budget, scheduled for 3 March, making business decisions extremely difficult.

A further £594m of discretionary funding is being allocated to local authorities so they can help other businesses that have been affected but have not had to close.

Grant rates depend on rateable values:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or less
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of more than £51,000