In the past year, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on small businesses all over the UK. Scrolling down our TikTok FYP, we’ve seen those miracle cupcake businesses being born from people’s own homes, but the reality of it is many businesses, big and small, have been negatively affected by the pandemic.
A report in September 2020 (before the second and third lockdowns) by Simply Business, found that 67% of SMEs were forced to stop trading at some point in the pandemic and an estimated 234,000 of these have already permanently stopped trading. The graph below, from the Office for National Statistics, shows the “percentage of businesses, current trading status, broken down by industry, weighted, UK 19 October to 1 November 2020.” It should be noted that the timeframe of this graph is outside of a national lockdown, so it will be interesting to see how it will alter post-third lockdown.
In the UK, small businesses “account for 99% of all businesses and 33% of all employment, while contributing a combined £2 trillion annually” to the economy. It’s no wonder that in his Budget statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced the Restart Grant scheme, where £5 billion is being put on the table to “help the high street,” with businesses having the opportunity to get up to £18,000 each. The payment will be made through Local Authorities, who have now sent round a plan of action to local businesses.
Who is eligible?
This one-off grant is for “non-essential retail, hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses.” The general Government eligibility guidelines can be found here, and the Local Authority ones here.
Local Authorities are expecting to receive the funding from the Government on the week commencing 5th April (this week), and anticipate being able to start making payments around 16th April. Payments will be made to the person/business listed on the Council’s business rates system for the premises concerned on 1st April 2021.