High streets start receiving first of £22 billion coronavirus benefit package

High streets will today begin receiving the first part of the government's £22 billion coronavirus benefit package, as it aims to keep businesses afloat past the crisis.

Thousands of small businesses in the UK have already received £25,000 cash grants from Local Authorities, the government says, and will be exempt from business rates from today for 12 months (Wednesday).

It is part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak's "unprecedented" finance package designed to ensure businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are able to reopen when lockdown measures are relaxed.

Mr Sunak said the package was announced to give high streets businesses the "vital cash they need to ensure their survival during this difficult time".

He added how high street businesses at the "core of what keeps our economy thriving".

Mr Sunak said 300 businesses have "already received money in their accounts" after an early payment of £3.4 billion was made to local authorities last week.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announces measures worth billions aimed at protecting business. Credit: 10 Downing Street

But several larger high street firms have already collapsed, with Chiquito, BrightHouse, Carluccio’s and Laura Ashley all falling into administration.The government announced several measures intended to save bigger firms, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which involved the government paying 80% of furloughed staff members' wages.

However, for businesses which were already struggling before the lockdown, it seems a reduced cashflow has proved fatal.

Advisory firm FRP, which is handling Carluccio's administration, said: “We are operating in unprecedented times and the issues currently facing the hospitality sector following the onset of Covid-19 are well documented.

“In the absence of being able to continue to trade Carluccio’s, in the short term, we are urgently focused on the options available to preserve the future of the business and protect its employees.

“We welcome the latest update on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and look forward to working with HMRC to access the support it provides for companies in administration and their employees."

Business Secretary Alok Sharma, said the 12 month business rates break was designed to offer small businesses "much-needed support".

He said: "Business rates can often be one of the main fixed costs for small companies up and down the country, which is why today’s suspension of business rates for retailers and our hospitality and leisure industries will offer much-needed support in these challenging times."

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