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Lockdown grants welcome but more support needed, say business groups

The government’s announcement of new cash grants for businesses affected by local lockdowns has been welcomed by business groups, including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Businesses in England that are required to shut because of a local lockdown will now be able to claim up to £1,500 per property every three weeks. However, both the CBI and the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) have warned that more targeted help is still required.

Annie Gascoyne, Director of Economic Policy at the CBI, said: ‘New direct cash grants will certainly help small businesses if their area falls under new restrictions to protect public health. But the impact of COVID-19 is still hurting businesses, so the government will need to look at more targeted support in the autumn. That needs to include a successor to the furlough scheme and allowing businesses to defer VAT payments from July to September.’

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE, commented: ‘We welcome the fact the government is supporting businesses affected by local lockdowns. However, although this will help some self-employed people with business premises, it will leave the great majority out in the cold.’

Meanwhile, the FSB said the grants are ‘much-needed additional financial lifelines’ for businesses most affected by COVID-19. Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, said: ‘Though a lot of firms have now been able to reopen, thousands are still impacted by local lockdowns.

‘We look forward to working together with local government to make sure there is a straightforward claims process for all firms affected.’

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