Chancellor Rishi Sunak makes £5billion pledge

Chancellor Rishi Sunak makes £5billion pledge to pubs and high street shops to ‘get the tills ringing once again’

  • High streets and pubs to be thrown a lifeline in Rishi Sunak’s Budget on March 3
  • Chancellor says  firms, shops, pubs cafes and restaurants will ‘open doors again’
  • Comes amid warning about the scale of economic damage caused by pandemic

Pubs and high street shops will be thrown a lifeline in Rishi Sunak’s Budget as he promised to ‘get the tills ringing once again’.

On Wednesday the Chancellor will unveil £5 billion in cash grants for businesses suffering from repeated lockdowns.

He will announce the new ‘Restart Grants’ to help businesses reopen once restrictions are finally eased. 

The grants will be on top of £20 billion in direct cash grants already handed out during the pandemic.

Rishi Sunak has promised to ‘get the tills ringing once again’ with the Budget set to be announced on Wednesday

Last night Mr Sunak told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It’s been an incredibly difficult year for our high streets. But soon shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants will be able to open their doors once again, and we’re providing the support they need to get them through, get them back on their feet and get the tills ringing once again.’

Hospitality, hotels, gyms, hair and beauty salons will be eligible for up to £18,000 per premises, allocated based on the rateable value of the property.

The Treasury has estimated 230,000 firms will be eligible for the higher band, which will be awarded based on their rateable value, and 450,000 shops will also be able to apply. Local councils will distribute the grants and will receive the funding in April.

The £5 billion pot will apply to businesses in England while those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive an extra £794 million in funding through the Barnett formula.

The Chancellor said: ‘Our local businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic which is why we went big and went early with a multibillion-pound package of support. There’s now light at the end of the tunnel and this £5 billion will ensure our high streets can open their doors with optimism.’

The Chancellor will unveil £5 billion in cash grants for businesses suffering from repeated lockdowns

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry group UK Hospitality, said the grants were ‘great news for hospitality businesses that have been struggling to see how they could survive through to the Prime Minister’s reopening dates.

‘Cash reserves have been severely depleted after a year of closure and restrictions and these grants are a very welcome boost, putting the sector in a better place to restart.’

Last week Tory MPs urged cuts to beer duty to help pubs reopen after restrictions are eased. A letter signed by 68 backbenchers called for a ‘significant’ cut to the tax.

The Budget is also expected to include an announcement to raise corporation tax as Mr Sunak lays down markers that he will need to start balancing the books.

The Chancellor faces pressure from backbenchers over tax rises, with Tory MPs being warned they could be kicked out of the party if they vote against the Budget.

This weekend the Chancellor issued a warning about the scale of economic damage caused by the pandemic and the need to repair public finances.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Sunak said he wants to ‘level with people’ about the challenge facing him, adding that the UK is ‘exposed’ to changes in record-low interest rates, with a rise of 1 percentage points worth £25 billion a year to the Government’s cost of servicing its debt.

Automatic visas for ‘brightest and best’

Nobel Prize and other international award winners will automatically get visas to work in the UK, Rishi Sunak is set to promise next week.

The Chancellor is expected to unveil plans designed to attract the ‘brightest and best international talent’ to post- Brexit Britain.

Treasury officials said the migration system reforms would encourage high-skilled workers – such as engineers and scientists – to come to work at UK firms. The changes will include reforming the current ‘Global Talent’ route.

Officials added that a new ‘elite’ points-based route would help start-up businesses and fast-growing outfits to recruit the talent they need. 

High-growth firms disproportionately employ or are founded by migrants, with 49 per cent of the UK’s fastest-growing businesses having at least one foreign-born founder.

Mr Sunak said last night: ‘We’ve taken back control of our borders and are backing business with a skills-led approach to migration that works for the whole of the UK.

‘These reforms will ensure we maintain our global status as world-leader in science and innovation – welcoming those with unique expertise.

‘Our immigration system will attract top talent to boost firms, drive economic growth and help us to build back better.’

 

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