Firms which were “crippled” by Tier four are demanding extra authorities help
Companies are calling for further assistance to prevent the collapse following the government shock from Tier 4 on Saturday.
In particular, corporate lobby groups are calling for business tariff vacation to be extended by an additional 12 months from January, sales tax breaks and additional direct support for businesses forced to close.
According to real estate consultant Altus Group, business rates are set to resume from April, which will cost powerful companies £ 12.8 billion in 2021.
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Non-essential stores, hairdressers, and leisure and entertainment venues were forced to close on Saturday afternoon yesterday after Boris Johnson’s abrupt announcement to enforce new Tier 4 restrictions amid concerns about a more virulent strain of coronavirus spreading rapidly in London and the southeast.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday suggested keeping Tier 4 until the vaccination program has adequately immunized the population – which could take months. The talk now is that Tier 4 will be imposed by Easter.
In the meantime, all non-essential businesses in Wales will be closed from Boxing Day onwards, subject to England’s Tier 4 restrictions, while Scotland and Northern Ireland will have their own three-week and six-week lockdowns from December 26th, respectively.
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The harsh new rules have dashed hopes for independent business recovery over the Christmas period. Economic forecaster CEBR estimates that retailers alone will lose £ 2 billion in sales for every week of Tier 4 lockdown.
Adam Marshall of the UK Chambers of Commerce wondered in the Financial Times if there would be any help for companies that have “paid for stocks they can’t sell now.”
“What support will there be for companies whose cash flow forecasts are again in chaos?” he asked.
Helen Dickinson, executive director of the British Retail Consortium, said the consequences of Tier 4 would be “severe” for a sector expected to lose around £ 2 billion in sales per week. “For businesses, the government’s stop-start approach is deeply of little help. That decision is made just two weeks after the last national lockdown ended and in the midst of peak trading that so many depend on to fuel their recovery,” she said .
Dickinson said the government “needs to provide additional financial assistance to help these companies get back on track” and that extending interest rate relief in 2021 “is the best place to start”.
Richard Lim, head of retail economics consultancy, told The Times that closing non-essential retail stores before Christmas would be a “crippling blow” to businesses in London and the Southeast.
Last week, the government extended the vacation program to the end of April for assistance available. The vacation covers up to 80 percent of the staff wages for hours not worked.
Companies that are forced to shout can also apply for grants of up to £ 3,000 per month. However, local authorities are still working to hand out grants from the November national lockdown, let alone prepare for another round of handout distribution.
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