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Chancellor announces additional £20bn support for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors

Published:  17 March, 2020

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has increased promised government support for the hospitality sector, with a mix of tax cuts and grants, amounting to a £20bn support package, in addition to an overall support package of government backed and guaranteed loans available to business of £330bn. 

Speaking from the steps of Downing Street at Tuesday's daily briefing, the Chancellor called for a “collective national effort” to fight the coronavirus crisis, saying it is “a public health emergency, but also an economic one”.

Pubs, bars, restaurants, other hospitality businesses and retailers were singled out by Sunak, as pressure mounted on the goverment to help this already hard hit sector to survive. 

Support is to be delivered via two new schemes, which he said will be up and running by Monday, 23 March.

To support liquidity among larger firms, a new lending facility has been agreed with the Bank of England, which will provide low cost, easily accessible loans.

To support small and medium-sized business, the Chancellor is extending the New Business Interruption Loan Scheme, announced in the Budget last week, upping loans available from £1.2m to £5m, with no interest due for the first six months.

On the topic of insurance for stressed pubs, clubs, theatres and other hospitality, leisure and retail venues, Sunak also offered reassurance.

For those businesses that do have a policy for insurance that covers pandemics, the government action is sufficient, and will allow those businesses to make a claim against their insurance policy, he said.

He added that for the many businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors that don’t have that insurance, in addition to the budget promise of a rate free 12-month period for all businesses with a rateable value of up to £51,000, that an additional cash grant of up to £25,000 would be available for each business to help them bridge the worst of the crisis.

The Chancellor also extended the business rate holiday to all business in those sectors, regardless of rateable value.

Cash grants to the smallest businesses are to be extended to £10,000.

As set out in the budget, small and medium businesses are also to be reimbursed for cost of statuatory sick pay.

“As a package of direct support to businesses, on top of unlimited lending capacity announced, this is a package of direct support to businesses, of tax cuts and grants, of over £20bn,” said the Chancellor.