Business leaders in Milton Keynes have welcomed a new support package for the leisure and hospitality sector.
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced new measures to support those business hardest hit by the latest guidance in reducing the spread of Covid-19.
Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, plus more than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses.
Government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK.
A further £30 million of funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund, enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for support during the winter.
Sean Rose, head of policy at the Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes Chambers of Commerce, said: “The latest round of Covid-19 restrictions and guidance have been different to previous waves, as they have not seen Government forcing businesses to close at this stage.
“However, it’s clear that the guidance and rise in cases is hitting confidence and, therefore, the leisure and hospitality sector is being adversely affected.
“We welcome this new support package and, as before, it’s vitally important that the money is easy to access and gets out to those businesses that need it most as quickly as possible. This could be a lifeline at what should be their busiest time of year.
“It’s not clear if there are going to be further restrictions in the coming days and weeks but it’s vitally important that, whatever happens, the Government is ready to support businesses even further to help them through this difficult period.”
Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “These measures will provide some welcome respite to many of those businesses who have been hit hardest by the latest Covid measures.
“The Chancellor and his team have engaged with us in talks over the past week, considered the experiences of Chamber business communities and the proposals we put to them.
“We are pleased that the Chancellor heard our call for additional grant funding for hospitality and leisure businesses, which will provide some much-needed support in the face of this increasingly difficult trading period. Clarity and speed will be needed to ensure that these grants are paid out swiftly to help these hard-pressed firms weather the next few weeks.
“Whilst these measures are a positive starting point, if restrictions persist or are tightened further, then we would need to see a wider support package, equal to the scale of any new measures, put in place.”