Throughout this crisis, the government has sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods while also supporting businesses and public services across the UK, including in Coventry. To do this, the government has put in place an economic package of support which will provide businesses and individuals with certainty over the coming months, even as measures to prevent further spread of the virus change. The government has spent over £280 billion this year to provide this support. Despite this, we must recognise that it will not be possible to preserve every job or business indefinitely, or stand in the way of the economy adapting and people finding new jobs or starting new businesses.
Businesses in Coventry which are forced to close can claim grants of up to £3,000 per month, based on their rateable value, through the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed). They can also claim a one-off grant of up to £9,000, in addition to the monthly grant. Businesses in Coventry which are not able to receive these grants for closed businesses may be able to benefit from the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). We recently increased the funding available under this scheme to £1.6 billion across England. It is up to each local authority to determine eligibility for this scheme based on their assessment of local economic need; however, we encourage local authorities to support businesses which have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, but which are ineligible for the other grant schemes.
Businesses are also able to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which was introduced to help employers whose operations have been affected by COVID-19 retain their employees and protect the UK economy. All businesses across the UK can access the scheme, which will run until the end of April 2021, with employees receiving 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to £2,500 per month. As at 31 January, provisional statistics show that there were about 7,300 employments furloughed in the Coventry North East constituency, representing a roughly 12% take up rate among eligible employments.
Businesses across the UK have also received billions in loans, tax deferrals, Business Rates relief, and general and sector-specific grants. Individuals and families have benefited from increased welfare payments, enhanced Statutory Sick Pay, a stay on repossession proceedings and mortgage holidays.
Throughout the pandemic, HM Treasury has recognised the importance of engaging with businesses and their representative organisations. The discussions that have resulted have been of immense value to our efforts to respond effectively, at pace, to these challenges. HM Treasury continues to engage with businesses and business groups on a regular basis in order to better understand the impact the pandemic is having and to develop approaches that deliver the best outcomes for the country.