Search

Councils ordered to pay businesses “as quickly as possible” amid closure fears

PUBLISHED: 20:35 01 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:54 02 April 2020

Business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Alok Sharma speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo: Pippa Fowles/Crown Copyright/10 Downing Street/PA Wire

Business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Alok Sharma speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo: Pippa Fowles/Crown Copyright/10 Downing Street/PA Wire

Small businesses in Norfolk will be able to apply for grant support after the government released £12bn to councils across the country.

At the daily press conference in Downing Street on Wednesday, business secretary Alok Sharma urged local authorities to pay it out “as quickly as possible”.

He also called on the banks to heed a letter from the Chancellor, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority to make sure the benefits of the Covid Business Interruption Loan Scheme are “passed through to businesses and consumers,

Mr Sharma said: “This afternoon I held a call with hundreds of local authorities across England and made clear this money must reach businesses as quickly as possible.

Read more: Why a pub poured 60 gallons of beer down the drain

“I know businesses across England have already started to receive these grants.

“It would be completely unacceptable if any banks were unfairly refusing funds to good business in financial difficulty,” he warned.

“Just as the taxpayer stepped in to help the banks back in 2008, we will work with the banks to do everything they can to repay that favour and support the businesses and people of the United Kingdom in their time of need.”

The government was once again questioned on the speed of testing and supplying personal protective equipment to hospitals and the ongoing lockdown measures.

Mr Sharma warned a “dangerous” second peak of cases could develop if the social distancing measures imposed by the Government were lifted too early.

Read more: ‘I cannot pay my staff’: Pub landlady says banks not delivering on coronavirus loans

The government has promised to increase to 25,000 tests a day.

Yvonne Doyle, director of health protection for Public Health England, said at the briefing: “There is positive news about this. The NHS and PHE committed to make 10,000 tests a day available. We have met that target by the end of March, early April, and we have some more capacity.

“And our commitment is actually to go to 25,000 tests a day and we are confident with our industry partners that we will achieve that.”

She stressed the importance of staying home after an increase in road traffic despite coronavirus travel restrictions remaining in place.

Read more: Coronavirus cases in Norfolk rise to 180

The latest figures from Department of Transport showed as of Sunday, use of motor vehicles had fallen by 73pc compared with February 27.

But a spike in traffic led to Monday’s figure showing just a 63pc decline compared with the same date.

Keep up to date with the latest information here


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press