Rishi Sunak has announced a £5bn Restart Grant scheme to help any small business most badly affected by Covid-19, according to reports.
A Restart Grant worth up to £18,000 for the largest businesses will help shops, pubs, hotels and any other small business through to June 21, when it’s hoped the final coronavirus restrictions will be lifted.
Mr Sunak is also expected to announce on Wednesday that other small business support schemes such as furlough will be extended until the end of June.
Where to find your Restart Grant
The Restart Grant scheme, administered by local councils, will help almost 700,000 small business owners including those running shops, pubs, clubs, hotels restaurants, gyms and hair salons.
Non-essential retail businesses will get up to £6,000 per premises through the Restart Grant scheme to help them reopen. Shops will reopen no earlier than April 12, according to the Government’s Covid-19 roadmap.
More Restart Grant money will be available for any small business in hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gyms, which will reopen later and will be more affected by restrictions. They can receive up to £18,000, depending on their rateable value.
Meanwhile, local authorities in England will also get an extra £425 million to distribute grants to businesses not eligible for the “restart grants” but are still suffering because of Covid restrictions.
The Restart Grant scheme will replace the monthly Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) and Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open), which will both close at the end of March.
Mr Sunak told the Financial Times: “Our local businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic — which is why we went big and went early with a multi-billion pound package of support.
“There’s now light at the end of the tunnel and this £5bn of extra cash grants will ensure businesses on our high street can open their doors with optimism.”
Self-employed face higher National Insurance
Mr Sunak is also planning to use an autumn Budget to increase National Insurance Contributions (NICs) paid by Britain’s 4.5m self-employed, bringing them more in line with those on PAYE, arguing that they too benefited from state support in the pandemic.
And entrepreneurs could be spared from an expected hike in corporation tax from 19 per cent to as much as 25 per cent by 2024, with a lower rate introduced for small businesses.