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At the third attempt and at short notice, the Chancellor has unveiled a revised package of measures to support businesses through the winter.
So whilst we endure tighter Covid restrictions, at least a more generous financial safety net for many will help assuage concerns, although it will have come too late for some.
The Chancellor has announced:
An extension of furlough until 2 December, with employees receiving 80% of their pay.
A more generous third grant for the self-employed claimable from 30 November
Extra welfare support for the self-employed until April 2021
Cash grants for businesses which are closed
Business Loan Schemes extended to 31 January 2021
A top up facility for Bounce Back Loans
Extended mortgage and consumer credit payment holidays
These announcements are on top of the £200 billion already committed, and Santa Sunak may yet have to provide more in December if restrictions continue. The Bank of England is expected to unleash a further £100bn of quantitative easing.
Extending the furlough and improving self-employed grants makes sense, and there is scope in future to make them more sector specific to help those businesses most in need.
The last-minute announcements may have come too late to save some jobs, as employers will already have been planning for the ending of the furlough scheme, and will not have had any time to agree changes to employees’ contracts.
And although all the measures announced bring welcome short-term relief, there is no escaping the fact that another lockdown will be damaging for businesses that have done all they can to function safely.
The Chancellor’s one-year Spending Review on 25 November should reflect the pandemic’s impact on businesses and individuals, as well as the likely impact of Brexit.
The IMF has said that more government spending is essential to protect the UK economy through the pandemic and Brexit. More public investment will be needed to rebuild, and fiscal policy must continue to accommodate what has already been put in place to protect firms and employees.
Putting some much-needed rocket fuel into the country’s growth prospects as the pandemic subsides will require a firm yet visionary hand on the Treasury’s controls to take full advantage of future opportunities.
We are here to support you with your business, so if you need help in maximising the opportunities, or if you are feeling cashflow or trading pressure, please get in touch, and also check out the Business after Covid-19 Transition Hub.
There are an evolving checklist of Covid-related key dates and deadlines to be aware of throughout November.