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New Support Announced for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

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As well as increasing the amount of incapacity benefit available to individuals who are unable to work due to isolation, the Economic Recovery Group has announced new support for businesses and self-employed persons that have been negatively impacted by the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

Support will be available for those in customer facing roles who are unable to work from home (such as those in the retail, catering, leisure and lifestyle sectors) and are affected by self-isolation requirements of staff or drop in customer demand.

Applicants will fill in one application form and will be entitled to claim either a grant equivalent to one years’ business premises rates payment, or a lump sum payment of £1,000.

The Business Premises Support Scheme will provide eligible applicants who have commercial premises with a grant payment equivalent to one year’s rates bills.

The Coronavirus Business Support Scheme (CBSS) will provide a payment of £1,000 to businesses and the self-employed who do not have commercial premises (or for whom the sum is greater than the cost of their rates).

Both grants are subject to evidence of a decreased turnover of 25% or more against July 2019 and can be used toward any business overheads, staffing costs, to alleviate cash flow issues.

The Department for Enterprise have been facilitating feedback from representatives of a wide range of sectors and yesterday members of the Economic Recovery Group met with the Chamber of Commerce. This information has been carefully considered when introducing these schemes. While Government communication with Chamber has been consistent throughout the pandemic, it is the Economic Recovery Group’s intention to meet formally with Chamber representatives more frequently going forward.

Treasury Minister Alfred Cannan, who chairs the Economic Recovery Group, said:

‘We acknowledge that many businesses find themselves in a challenging position and that the rise in COVID-19 cases has increased the number of staff that are unavailable to attend their normal place of work as well as consumer demand. While isolating due to illness remains the correct personal response, we appreciate that this is inadvertently impacting some businesses, individuals and the self-employed and particularly those in customer facing roles.

‘We are extremely grateful for the time that businesses have taken to provide us with this information. The challenges that businesses are facing are multi-faceted and the three new support measures have been designed to provide as much flexibility as possible.

‘As well as accessing these schemes once launched, I would also ask businesses where possible to access the full range of support already available to them, which include access to Government backed working capital loans, business improvement payments, and importantly the Business Adaptation Grant.’

Further information on the Business Premises Support Scheme and the Coronavirus Business Support Scheme will be made available next week at the COVID-19 website.