Chancellor Rishi Sunak has outlined a new support package in his March budget says commercial property agent, Prop-Search, confirming the decision to extend the furlough scheme until the end of September, as well as new loan schemes of up to £10m for businesses.
In what is Sunak’s second budget since he joined office in 2020, the Chancellor said that despite a record £280bn of financial support to date, the damage coronavirus has caused has been “acute”.
The raft of support measures includes the extension of the furlough scheme, which will now be extended until the end of September, as Sunak said that “protecting, creating and supporting” jobs remains his highest priority. The scheme will remain unchanged until July when the Government will then ask firms to contribute 10% in August and 20% in September.
Samantha Jones, an Associate Director of Prop-Search and retail specialist, said: “Pubs, restaurants and other non-essential retail businesses will also see the year-long business rates holiday extended for another three months. They will now be exempt until June, followed by a further six-month period where rates will be discounted to two-thirds of the normal charge, up to a maximum of £2m for closed businesses.”
She added: “The business rates holiday - aimed at lifting the burden on retailers and other high street businesses that have been adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially the lockdowns - had originally been due to expire at the one year-mark in April.”
Also confirmed in the Budget was a ‘new restart grant’ that would be provided in April to help businesses reopen as the phased lockdown exit plan ramps up in mid-April. The Chancellor said that because non-essential retailers were due to reopen first, they would receive grants of up to £6000 per premises. Other high street businesses, such as hospitality and leisure businesses and close-contact services, would be given grants of up to £18,000 per premises.
Noting that hospitality and tourism businesses need continued support, the Chancellor also confirmed that the 5% VAT cut will now be extended until 30 September, moving to an interim rate of 12.5% until April of next year.
And finally, a new recovery loan scheme will also allow businesses of any size to apply for loans of £25,000 to £10m until the end of the year, with the Government covering lenders of up to 80%.