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High streets to benefit from £22bn grants and business rates package

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The government has promised struggling high street firms that they will be receiving £22 billion coronavirus boost, with grants of up to £25,000 already being paid into their bank accounts.

A joint statement from chancellor Rishi Sunak and business secretary Alok Sharma announced that thousands of high street firms are also exempt from business rates from 1 April – as they begin to benefit from a share of £22 billion in aid.

As part of a raft of unprecedented measures announced by the chancellor to support those affected by the coronavirus outbreak, eligible properties, including those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, will not pay business rates for the next 12 months. The measure is projected to save firms in England £11 billion.

The smallest businesses in these sectors are also starting to receive one-off grants of either £10,000 or £25,000.

Sunak said: “High street businesses are at the core of what keeps our economy thriving.

“That is why we are taking the unprecedented step to provide businesses with the vital cash they need to ensure their survival during this difficult time, with 300 businesses having already received money in their accounts.”

An early payment of £3.4 billion was made to local authorities during the week ending 27 March, to ensure that grants would get to businesses as soon as possible. Every local authority in England has now received the full amount of grant funding they need to support their local businesses, he said.

The business rates holiday, which also applies to England’s nurseries, forms part of the government’s economic response to Covid-19.

Sharma explained: “Business rates can often be one of the main fixed costs for small companies up and down the country, which is why today’s suspension of business rates for retailers and our hospitality and leisure industries will offer much-needed support in these challenging times.”

The rates relief and grants are in addition to the government’s wide-ranging support for the economy. This includes the government paying the wages of millions of employed and self-employed people by covering 80 per cent of monthly incomes through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.

Devolved administrations will receive funding under the Barnett formula to support businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So far, the government has provided £5.3 billion of funding to the devolved administrations to support people, business and public services in response to Covid-19.

This includes over £2.7 billion for the Scottish Government, over £1.6 billion for the Welsh Government and £900 million for the Northern Ireland Executive.

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