Government help for Burnley and Pendle high streets during crisis

High Street firm owners in Burnley and Pendle are beginning to receive £25,000 cash grants and will be exempt from business rates from this week – as they begin to benefit from a £22 billion package.

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 came into force on Wednesday and will save firms in England £11 billion.

The smallest businesses in these sectors are also beginning to receive one off grants of either £10,000 or £25,000, with money landing in their bank accounts.

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Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “We have some fantastic independent shops and businesses here. These businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, so this package announced by the Chancellor is most welcome to help support them in these times.”

Burnley town centre

Chancellor Rishi Sunak commented: “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.”

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An early payment of £3.4 billion was made to local authorities last week to ensure 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.

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

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Nelson town centre

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “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.”

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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% of monthly incomes through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.

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

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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.

Mike Cherry, national chairman ofThe Federation of Small Businesses said: “Many small businesses across England in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors alongside nurseries, estate and letting agents and bingo halls, will be very pleased that the one year business rates holiday has started.

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“This intervention combined with the quick delivery of grants for those small businesses eligible for the expanded Retail Discount and the 700,000 small businesses in receipt of small business rates relief and rural rate relief, could be the difference between surviving this crisis or folding.”