This year, Small Business Saturday is especially important.
While business rates relief, a VAT freeze for the leisure & hospitality sector and more than £25 million in business grants so far (with more to come) from central Government to our District Council have helped, our local businesses are Covid-secure and many are ready to welcome us back.
Coronavirus is still hanging around, though, so the Government has upped the economic support available:
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: extended until the end of March 2021 for all parts of the UK, with employees receiving 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme: in place until April 2021. The scheme is currently in its third stage and will offer grants to the self-employed at 80% of average trading profits for November to January, capped at £7,500 in total.
Finance schemes are continuing: Under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), the Government provides lenders with an 80% guarantee to enable them to support viable small and medium sized enterprises and larger businesses respectively. Under the Bounce Back Loans Scheme (BBLS), the government provides lenders with a 100% guarantee to enable them to provide loans between £2,000 and £50,000 to small and medium-sized businesses with a simple, streamlined application process. All three government-backed loan schemes are open until the end of January 2021.
Local Restrictions Support Grants: Businesses in England that are forced to close will receive up to £3,000 for each 28 day period. Where businesses have not been required to close but have been severely affected by restrictions in tier 2 or tier 3 areas, Local Authorities will receive funding that will enable them to make grants worth up to £2,100 for each 28 day period.
Business Rates holiday: All eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will pay no business rates in England for 12 months from 1 April 2020, and nurseries in England will also receive a one-year holiday.
Increased funding for the welfare system: £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element for 2020-21, and an increase in the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants. These changes are collectively worth over £7 billion this year.
Reduced VAT rate for hospitality and tourism: The Government is extending the reduced VAT rate of 5% for eligible businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors until 31 March 2021.
While this support is great, we also need to get back out there and support our local businesses through these difficult times – shop safely.