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East Anglian firms to receive £215 million package for second lockdown

The country is once again in lockdown and businesses have been offered further support. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The country is once again in lockdown and businesses have been offered further support. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

East Anglia has been handed £215m by the government to pay the way through the country’s second lockdown – but policy makers have warned the sum will hardly touch the sides.

Business secretary Alok Sharma announced this week that further grants would be released to businesses via local authorities.

These authorities will then filter the funds through two grant schemes: one for businesses that have been required to close worth up to £3,000 for the four-week period, and another scheme for further support for businesses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, helping to support people’s jobs and livelihoods and protect communities.

And although the funds have been welcomed the government has been warned the aid may not even cover rent for some small businesses.

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Andrew Mower, the East of England development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses said: “The latest round of support is a big step forward, but confidence among the region’s businesses is low and many are facing a hugely difficult winter. The grants are welcome news but the truth is that they pale in comparison to those that were available in the Spring. In many cases they won’t even cover rents.

“It’s vital that local authorities ensure that the discretionary funding they’ve been given promptly reaches those businesses in most need. In particular we’re eager to see thought given to suppliers to the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, as many have missed out on support so far despite Covid’s devastating impact on their trade.”

Mr Mower added that pressure is added with Brexit around the corner: “There remains little clarity about the future EU relationship. Businesses have lost money in the past stockpiling for the possibility of an unsuccessful outcome but can’t afford to do it again.”

Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, added that the support is “very welcome” alongside measures such as the extension of the furlough scheme and government loan schemes.

On Brexit he added: “We know that many businesses are not fully prepared for the end of the transition period, which is in less than 50 days. A number of changes will come into force from January 1 and it’s important that business owners take some time to make sure they are ready.

“We know that this continues to be an incredibly challenging time for our region’s businesses. Anyone needing advice can access free support through the New Anglia Growth Hub on 0300 333 6536.”


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