Rishi Sunak has committed billions of pounds to support schemes aimed at both workers and businesses alike. These schemes have continued to evolve as coronavirus raged on and today, new plans will be released on how certain businesses will receive support as local lockdown restrictions are enforced.
Currently, businesses in tier two (high alert) areas do not receive the same level of government support as those in tier three (very high alert), which includes business grants and higher wage subsidies.
This is due to the fact that businesses in tier two can remain open, while tier three bans social mixing both indoors and in private gardens, with pubs and bars needing to completely close unless they can operate as a restaurant.
As it stands, businesses in tier three can have up to 66 percent of employees’ wages covered by the government but those in tier two will have to pay around 55 percent of staff wages while only receiving a smaller subsidy from the government.
However, this is set to change in the coming weeks as Rishi Sunak is predicted to extend the larger grants and wage subsidies to businesses in tier two areas who are not legally obliged to close, but have chosen to do so as the economic impact makes it unviable to remain open.
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These changes will come at a difficult time for the government as regional disputes have begun to emerge across the UK.
Recently, Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, resisted implementing the government’s lockdown rules in the city.
Eventually, Boris Johnson imposed restrictions on the city but Andy remained critical of the government’s efforts, as he detailed: “Greater Manchester has been in ‘high’ alert for three months but our hospitality businesses haven’t had any emergency support.
“We asked for this to be taken into account in Tier three negotiations. The Government refused.”
She continued: “Dan has been fighting vociferously for the people of Sheffield and South Yorkshire, just like I have been, because we genuinely thought we were in proper discussions and negotiations.”
Reportedly, talks to move parts of the North East into tier three have been put on hold.
However, Coventry will be moved up from tier one restrictions this weekend, joining other midland neighbours after a spike in coronavirus cases.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, noted the tiered lockdown rules represented a “serious economic challenge”.
As he tweeted on October 21: “Currently, there’s no extra financial support available for our hospitality sector in Tier 2 which cannot possibly be right.
“I will continue to press Govt on this & I’m confident we will get a breakthrough soon.”
In advance of the announcement, the Chancellor’s spokesperson confirmed the following: “The Chancellor is due to update the House of Commons on the economic situation, in particular, and so far as it relates to the new restrictions.
“And, what we have always said is that our package of support is always flexible and always up for review to make sure that it is dealing with the situation as it evolves.”