On Tuesday, Britain offered 4.6 billion pound support to businesses struggling with the third national lockdown, which was imposed this week to stem the new mutant wave of the coronavirus-induced COVID-19 cases that is sweeping across the U.K.
In a statement Finance minister Rishi Sunak said, companies in the hospitality, retail, and leisure sector will be able to claim one-off grants worth up to 9,000 pounds to get them through the coming months.
Late on Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had announced a lockdown saying a highly contagious new coronavirus variant first identified in Britain was spreading so fast it risked overwhelming the National Health Service (NHS) within 21 days.
“This will help businesses to get through the months ahead – and crucially it will help sustain jobs, so workers can be ready to return when they are able to reopen,” said Sunak.
Under the new lockdown, people have been instructed to work from home unless it is impossible for them to do so. All hospitality venues along with all non-essential shops have been told to remain closed. Both indoor and outdoor organized sports have been cancelled other than elite competitions.
In addition to this UK-wide grants, financial assistance worth around 4 billion pounds are also being readied by the government for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In November 2020, in a statement Sunak had said measures taken to that point to help the economy through the pandemic would cost the British economy around 280 billion pounds this financial year.
“This new grant package is welcome, and will go some way to reassuring the worst affected businesses,” said Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors business group.
Britain suffered its most severe economic contraction from the G7 group of economies during the second quarter of 2020, when it was hit by the first lockdown, with economic output down by almost 20%.
According to an estimate from the Organisation for Economic Development and Coordination, the recovery of the British economy by the end of 2021 is expected to be the slowest among all member countries other than Argentina.