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Just when I was starting to think that my series of Blogs on Coronavirus business updates had run its course, lo and behold it appears that we’re almost back to square one.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Tuesday a one-off grant worth up to £9,000 for businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure as part of a £4.6bn support package to help business through the latest national lockdown.

Mr Sunak has unveiled fresh support for struggling UK sectors hit hardest by the Covid-19 restrictions that will have to close due to the new national lockdown. Businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure will be able to receive one-off grants up to £9,000 per business premises.

The announcement comes the morning after the prime minister imposed tough new lockdown measures which are likely to last until at least the February half term.

What are the new Business Grants?

These are stated to be one-off grants and are open to businesses in hospitality, retail and leisure forced to close their doors and the amount will be judged on the rateable value of the premises. They are:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

Additionally, the Chancellor also rolled out a further £594m for local authorities nationwide. These funds will support businesses not eligible for the one-off grant and businesses must apply direct to their local authorities.

Mr Sunak recognised that the new strain of the virus presents a “huge challenge” and requires “swift action”, which is why he’s providing “a further cash injection to support businesses and jobs until 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”, he said.

Additional Business Support

Tuesday’s £4.6bn cash injection comes in addition to the already existing grants worth up to £3,000, the extension to the furlough scheme until April and the business lending schemes. Also, the Self Employment Income Support Scheme is being extended, but no further details were given on that and there was no mention of any support for those that don’t qualify for SEISS.

This package of measures is designed to tide businesses over until the Budget on 3rd March when Sunak will “take stock of our wider support and set out the next stage in our economic response. This is why we are re-doubling our efforts to protect businesses, jobs and incomes,” he said.

Lockdown Restrictions

On Monday Boris Johnson ordered people in England to stay at home, as reported cases of coronavirus spiralled to one in fifty of the population and with deaths due to Covid-19 now topping 75,000. The tough new rules in England mirror those in Scotland and Wales.

It is also a sobering thought that as at 1st January, only just over half the self-assessment tax returns had been filed with HMRC and the 31st January deadline is looming up quickly. A spokesman for the various accountancy bodies Mark Kay said yesterday, “I consider HMRC to be totally unreasonable in dismissing the case for an extension to the 31st January filing date, given the latest lockdown.”

He went on to say, “I think we are as accountants are providing an essential service and one with an immediate deadline. Accountants and their staff should be considered key workers, and therefore be eligible to send their children to school, especially in this critical month.”

David Jones Shrewsbury Accountant and Founder of Morgan JonesFortunately for me, my children are now adults, but I have enormous sympathy for the thousands of accountants out there who are in the classic dilemma of wanting to do the best for their clients, but who are having major problems with childcare and home learning.

Whether or not HMRC exercises sympathetic commonsense, remains to be seen.

As ever, if you would like more detailed information on some aspect of UK Tax, send me an e-mail and I’ll be pleased to advise further.