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One-off hospitality grants branded ‘sticking plaster’

The UK government will give grants of up to £9,000 (US$12,000) to hospitality firms as the nation enters a third lockdown, a move described as a “sticking plaster” solution.

The UK government will offer grants of up to £9,000 to pubs, bars and restaurants

Last night (4 January), UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced a national lockdown and instructed people to stay at home.

Under the new order, people will only be allowed to leave their homes to shop for necessities, go to work if they cannot do so from home, exercise, meet their support bubble, seek medical assistance and attend education.

Hospitality venues such as restaurants, pubs and bars must close, with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway until 11pm or food and drinks for home delivery.

Following the announcement, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £4 billion (US$5.4bn) fund to support more than 600,000 retail, hospitality and leisure businesses affected by the closure.

Sunak said: “Today we’re announcing a further cash injection to support businesses and jobs until the 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.”

The one-off grants will see businesses with a rateable value of up to £15,000 (US$20,000) awarded £4,000 (US£5,400), businesses valued at between £15,000 and £51,000 (US$69,000) will be offered £6,000 (US$8,200) and those valued at more than £51,000 will be given £9,000.

In response to the new measures, trade body UK Hospitality welcomed the support, but described them as a “sticking plaster” and called for a “longer-term economic plan”.

UK Hospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “While this announcement is most welcome, make no mistake that this is only a sticking plaster for immediate ills – it is not enough to even cover the costs of many businesses and certainly will not underpin longer-term business viability for our sector. To address the inevitable and existential challenges that hospitality faces, we need confirmation of extensions to the business rates holiday and of the 5% VAT [value added tax] rate.

“On its own today’s support is not enough. Businesses need a longer-term economic plan and it would befit the crisis that we face if the chancellor brought forward his Budget to make the announcements necessary to reassure businesses and allow them to plan their survival. Commercial certainty cannot come soon enough and only the chancellor can deliver it.”

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