Steve Godwin is the manager of the Andover Business Improvement District. He has shared this statement following today’s (3rd March 2021) Budget:
Particularly welcome to our local Andover businesses were the restart grants and remember that grants don’t need to be paid back.
The £6,000 restart grant per premises for non-essential retailers for when they open mid-April. Other good news was that other high street businesses, such as hospitality and leisure businesses and those offering close-contact services are be given grants of up to £18,000 per premises.
BID is particularly pleased thatthe Chancellor has announced an extension of business rates holiday until June, with further discount scheme for the rest of the financial year until March 2022.The business rates holiday is aimed at lifting the burden on retailers and other high street businesses that have been adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially the lockdowns – had originally been due to expire at the one year-mark in April.
The Chancellor added that for the remaining nine months of the tax year so from June, business rates would still be discounted by two-thirds, up to a value of £2 million for closed businesses, with a lower cap for those who have been able to stay open during lockdowns due to “essential” status.
Chancellor Sunak also confirmed the furlough scheme would be extended until the end of September, and employees will continue to receive 80 per cent of their salary for hours not worked.
As the Bounce Back Loan and CBIL schemes come to an end, the government is introducing a new recovery loan scheme to take their place.
The Chancellor said businesses of any size can apply for loans, retailers and other businesses would still need loans to support them despite the re-grants and have therefore set out a new Recovery Loan Scheme to replace previous Covid loan packages, allowing businesses of any size to apply for loans from £25,000 up to £10 million until the end of the year, with the UK Government providing lenders with an 80 per cent guarantee.
For those in retail who are self-employed, they will continue being able to access support until September, with the fourth grant providing three months of support at 80 per cent of average trading profits.
The Chancellor said that for the fifth grant covering the three-month period until September, self-employed workers will continue to receive grants worth three months of average profits, and that claims can be made from late July.
The Budget also confirmed that the minimum wage would increase to £8.91 an hour from April. This is great news for our low paid employees but will inevitably mean that costs and consumer prices will increase.
BID wrap up comment.
Overall, this seems to be a well-balanced budget and given that we are coming through such a long and traumatic period government genuinely seem to be wanting to help the high street and we are supportive of that.
We are not out of the water yet but at least this budget offers those who have been struggling the most, a lifeline. BID will communicate the finer details of the budget to its members when we have them.