Businesses hit by Tier 4 restrictions need bigger cash boost, says Labour

Shaun Connolly, PA Political Correspondent
·2-min read

Businesses affected by the sudden imposition of Tier 4 coronavirus restrictions need more financial help, Labour has said.

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said nearly 175,000 operations in London and southern and eastern England had been instructed to close by the announcement of new lockdown measures at the weekend.

Mr Miliband accused Business Secretary Alok Sharma of being “asleep at the wheel”.

Coronavirus – Thu Nov 12, 2020
Business Secretary Alok Sharma (Leon Neal/PA)

The ex-Labour leader said a “hospitality and high street fightback fund” was needed as the “vast majority” of businesses were only able to access an emergency cash grant “worth around half or a third of the support on offer during the national lockdown in March”.

Labour said this category included 99% of hairdressers and beauty salons and 92% of gyms.

Mr Miliband said £2 billion returned to the Treasury by supermarkets in business rates relief should be used to help affected firms.

He said: “Businesses are facing a Christmas nightmare on the high street, forced to close at the last minute by Tier 4 restrictions.

“Many shops, leisure and beauty businesses just getting back on their feet have had the rug pulled from under them, joining struggling restaurants and pubs already shut.

“Businesses are doing the right thing and closing to keep people safe, but ministers are not doing the right thing by them.

“We need these businesses on the other side of the crisis but the support is hopelessly inadequate, and the Business Secretary seems to be asleep at the wheel.

“The Government can’t keep leaving businesses in the lurch like this. Ministers must urgently boost support for closed businesses through a hospitality and high street fund to save businesses and jobs now.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “We understand the pressure businesses are under and this government has stood by them and their staff throughout the pandemic.

“Businesses can access our unprecedented support package worth £280 billion, including the extended furlough scheme which is protecting nearly 10 million jobs, grants for businesses required to close of up to £3,000 a month, business rates holidays, various loan schemes and VAT deferral.”