New grant for businesses in local lockdown

It has been announced by the Government that a new grant has been approved for employers in England who must close as a result of local lockdown measures.

The support comes as some organisations continue to suffer due to the rising cases of coronavirus in their geographical areas which leads to more stringent measures being implemented across the area. Depending on the source of coronavirus break outs in the area, some business types have been forced to close again.

Most recently, the citizens of Bolton – a Greater Manchester town – were placed under local lockdown rules which included the following organisational restrictions:

• all hospitality venues (restaurants, cafes, bars, and pubs) are restricted to providing a takeaway-only service
• late night restriction of operating hours meaning all venues, including takeaways, will be required to close between 10pm to 5am

This new grant will not yet apply to Bolton or most other cities and towns across England. This is because a trial scheme is ongoing in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle, and Oldham only. If it is rolled out across the country, the new funding will consist of a grant of up to £1,500 paid every three weeks for as long as the restrictions apply.

Larger employers will be given £1,500 every three weeks that they are forced to close, whilst smaller employers will be given £1,000 every three weeks. ‘Every three weeks’ means that an initial payment will account for an initial three-week lockdown period, whilst further payments will be made on each new three-week lockdown period necessary. The grant will be taxable for all employers.

The only eligibility criteria for the grant is that employers were forced to close due to restrictions in their local area, except those have not been able to reopen since before the national lockdown measure was introduced, including nightclubs. For those who are eligible, the Government has placed the responsibility for distributing the grant to Local Authorities who may be able to set further eligibility criteria of their own.

Steve Barclay, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has said that: “These grants provide [employers] with a safety net as they temporarily close their doors to help save lives in their local areas. As local economies eventually and carefully re-open after local interventions, our Plan for Jobs is there waiting to help [employers] get back on their feet, protect jobs and thrive in the future.”

Employers who are eligible for this payment will not be prevented from receiving further support from other government initiatives such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and more.

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