Image above: Chancellor Rishi Sunak; photograph Sky News
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced financial support for hospitality businesses across all tiers of Covid-19 restrictions. The Chancellor outlined a financial support package which can be backdated to August.
After the Tier system was introduced across the country, pubs and restaurants in Tier 2 found booking drop dramatically as people who would normally go for a drink or eat out with friends found they could no longer do that. Industry bosses, including Fuller’s CEO Simon Emeny, warned the Government that thousands of jobs could be lost unless Government help was forthcoming.
Rishi Sunak told MPs on Thursday 22 August that “it is clear that even businesses who can stay open are facing profound economic uncertainty”.
After a meeting with representatives of the hospitality industry earlier in the morning, he said:
“Their message was clear – the impact of the health restrictions on their businesses is worse than they hoped … So I am taking three further steps today.
“I am introducing a new grant scheme for businesses impacted by Tier 2 restrictions, even if they aren’t legally closed. We will fund local authorities to provide businesses in their area with direct cash grants. It will be up to local authorities to decide how best to distribute these grants, giving them the necessary flexibility to respond to local economic circumstances.
“But I am providing enough funding to give every businesses premises in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors a direct grant worth up to £2,100 for every month Tier 2 restrictions apply. That is equivalent to 70% of the value of the grants available for closed businesses in Tier 3.
“Crucially, I am pleased to confirm these grants will be retrospective. Businesses in any area which has been under enhanced restrictions can backdate their grants to August. I am pleased to confirm that the backdating of the new grants means we are being more generous to businesses and places which have been under higher restrictions for longer.”
Image above: Hospitality workers on the ‘Hospodemo’ on Monday 19 October
‘Just a small step in the right direction’
Rachel Harty, who organised Monday’s demonstration by hospitality workers in Parliament Square, gave the Chancellor’s initiative a cautious welcome:
“While it’s encouraging that the government has listened to us and responded quickly on Tier 2, let us be clear: today’s announcement is just a small step in the right direction” she said.
“The Job Support Scheme for hospitality workers in Tier 2 and 3 needs to go further. Hospitality operators need higher grants, the introduction of rent relief and an urgent review of the 10pm curfew, to avoid a tsunami of insolvencies and associated job losses”.
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