The new £9,000 per property grant is welcome to address the latest lockdown and provide additional support to the hardest hit business in retail, hospitality and leisure. However, it excludes many businesses and individuals in these sectors who do not have a physical property.
In recent years, many businesses have utilised the increased flexibility that serviced office spaces provide and many people work from home, but they are still very much part of these heavily impacted sectors and provide a variety of services to events and projects that are delivered around the country.
They even provide support services to venues that can claim the allowance, whilst they cannot.
Grants should be available to all businesses in these sectors and should not be linked to having a physical property.
Access to additional funding will also be required by these businesses as lockdown ends and they seek to bounce back for a third time.
The Chancellor needs to provide details of his successor loan scheme in conjunction with increasing the limits of the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and level of guarantee for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to ensure these affected businesses have sufficient access to finance to be able to open for trade once this current lockdown ends.
Greater debt for businesses is just not the answer. A joined-up approach to enable the growth of businesses who access these support measures, and thus allow business owners and Government to benefit in the future, should form part of the successor loan scheme.
Many self-employed individuals are engaged in these sectors and, whilst eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support scheme, this is still based upon 6 April 2018 – 5 April19 tax return data. This excludes all of those who became self-employed after 5 April 2019.
The support also excludes those who erroneously did not file a tax return until after the deadline for 2019. This mostly affects those who did not file as they were below the earnings limit and thought no filing was necessary as no tax was due.
While in a normal year this lack of filing would often be a small issue, many people have lost out on support payments from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), even if filings have been brought up to date.
This system needs to be updated to reflect 6 April 2019 – 5 April 2020 data in the interest of fairness and to address some of the largest excluded groups from the current and previous support measures.