News

Sunak's £4.6bn lockdown grants ‘sorely needed’ but won't protect jobs

The Chancellor has acted quickly to prop up businesses hit by the new Covid-19 lockdown - but is facing increasing calls to extend furlough and Universal Credit increase

Rishi Sunak announces lockdown grants for businesses hit by Covid-19

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak chairs the daily press conference at 10 Downing Street Image credit: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced £4.6 billion in lockdown grants to help businesses hit hard by the latest Covid-19 lockdown but has been warned the package is “not good enough” to protect jobs and firms from closure.

The Treasury announced that businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries will receive one-off top up grants worth up to £9,000 per property to get them through the national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday night.

The cash injection is expected to benefit over 600,000 business properties, costing an estimated £4bn across all four nations of the UK.

A £594 million discretionary fund will also be available to support other impacted businesses forced to close as the rapid spread of the new Covid-19 strain forced the UK Government to impose the strictest Covid-19 measures since the pandemic began last March.

Lockdowns have taken income away from hundreds of Big Issue sellers. Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.

Chancellor Sunak said: “Throughout the pandemic we’ve taken swift action to protect lives and livelihoods and today we’re announcing a further cash injection to support businesses and jobs until the spring.

“This will help businesses to get through the months ahead – and crucially it will help sustain jobs, so workers can be ready to return when they are able to reopen.”

That swift action to offer lockdown grants earned praise from the Confederation of British Industry who described the injection of cash as “sorely needed”.

But news that high street crafts retailer Paperchase is facing administration underlined that point as the firm’s 1,500 face an uncertain future following what bosses described the “unbearable strain” already put on the high street thanks to Covid-19 disruption.

In response to the growing economic crisis, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds criticised Sunak’s Twitter announcement of the new measures and called for him to announce more support in a statement in the House of Commons when parliament is recalled tomorrow.

Dodds said: “After the Prime Minister forgot to mention the economy again last night, millions of people were let down by the Chancellor’s 90-second cameo today.

“Instead of delivering the support that Britain needed, he’s ploughing on with plans to hit people in their pockets with pay cuts, benefits cuts and tax rises.

“People have had enough of the last-minute scramble from this absent Chancellor. Rishi Sunak must come to Parliament tomorrow and finally set out a long-term plan to protect jobs and livelihoods and put Britain on the path to a better, more secure recovery.”

Labour’s demands include support from people who don’t receive government support during the pandemic, which ExcludedUK say is leaving three million self-employed people without financial help.

The pressure group – who The Big Issue this week named among our 2021 Changemakers – demanded that the Chancellor included a one-off £2,000 payment for the people excluded from meaningful support as well as monthly payments of 80 per cent of pre-Covid income up to £2,500 per month throughout the lockdown period.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has championed the cause – alongside fellow Metro Mayors in Manchester and Liverpool Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram – and he reiterated the need for the Government to ensure no one slips through the cracks in the new lockdown.

“I welcome this announcement of much-needed additional support, which business groups and I have been calling for,” said Khan. “It should have come sooner and it won’t replace the revenue lost over the vital Christmas period, but it should help many struggling retail, hospitality and leisure businesses stay afloat until spring.

“Clearly more help is needed – It’s scandalous that there are three million excluded self-employed people who continue to be ignored, many of whom are left facing the impact of these tougher restrictions alone.”

Campaigners for workers rights warned Sunak that the time is now to invest in protecting jobs.

The TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady called on the Chancellor to boost sick pay to a real Living Wage and increase Universal Credit. The current £20 increase to Universal Credit is set to expire in April with the furlough scheme also set to run until the end of that month.

O’Grady said: “The government’s financial support package isn’t good enough to cope with this renewed public health emergency. Without more support, jobs will be lost and businesses will close.

“The Government must not force a choice between lives and livelihoods.”

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Junior doctors announce five-day strike right before the general election: 'We're fed up'
Strikes

Junior doctors announce five-day strike right before the general election: 'We're fed up'

'You live in fear': Leasehold homeowners share horror stories of nasty hidden fees and service charges
leasehold, michael gove
Leasehold

'You live in fear': Leasehold homeowners share horror stories of nasty hidden fees and service charges

Leaseholder rights: How to fight against rip-off service charges – a step-by-step guide
service charges, flats, UK
Leasehold

Leaseholder rights: How to fight against rip-off service charges – a step-by-step guide

UK's top 0.1% earners emit 22 times more transport greenhouse gases than low income households
Climate change

UK's top 0.1% earners emit 22 times more transport greenhouse gases than low income households

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know