Covid: What financial support is available for businesses forced to close in Tier 3 areas?

Many businesses have been forced to close due to Tier 3 restrictions. Credit: PA

With more and more businesses in England facing closure due to Tier 3 restrictions, what support is available to keep them afloat?

Manchester is still holding out for more financial support before it is raised to the highest level, while South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire are thought to be under consideration to be moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3.

Tier 3 means pubs and bars must close, with other venues likes gyms and restaurants kept open in some areas and closed in others.

The government moved quickly to support businesses that were closed during the height of the pandemic, what support is available now and how can businesses access the extra funds?

What financial support is available?

Unlike the start of the pandemic when pubs and restaurants were closed nationally and support was facilitated through central government, this time the regional lockdown support is being handled by local authorities.

This means there will be some regional variation between Tier 3 areas, with different support packages agreed for Liverpool City Region and Lancashire.

However, the government has announced that two core schemes will be available to all areas - the expanded Job Support Scheme (furlough) and Local Restrictions Support Grant.

The Job Support Scheme was announced by Rishi Sunak in September.

Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work - but for the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary.

Rishi Sunak announced the local furlough would be an extension of the Jobs Support Scheme Credit: PA

Mr Sunak expanded the scheme to also provide a furlough plan for businesses that had been forced to close, because of coronavirus restrictions.

For businesses that are unable to legally operate due to Covid-19 restrictions, the government will pay employees 66% of their wage, with the employer still contributing to pensions and National Insurance.

The furlough will be available for six months from November 1 and payments will be made in arrears after applications open on December 1, meaning many employees will have to wait several weeks for any money.

In addition to this, the government has also announced the Local Restrictions Support Grant which provides businesses with up to £3,000 per month depending on the size of their company and value of their property.

There is also discretionary funding for businesses that have not been forced to close but have been severely affected by the tightened measures.

This is a one-time payment of £1,500 and is decided on a case by case by the local council.

How do businesses get access to the support?

All targeted support for businesses that have been forced to close due to Tier 3 restrictions can be accessed through the local authority's website.

This includes the local furlough and monthly grants from the government.

Wider support measures that are still in places like the Job Retention Scheme and VAT discounts can still be accessed through the government's website.

For example, a gym in Liverpool would be able to find the support grant application from on either Liverpool City Council's website, or on the Liverpool City Region website.

Businesses across Liverpool have been forced to close. Credit: PA

Grants will be backdated to the day the business was forced to close.

Access to the furlough scheme will not be available until December, but when it does launch, it will be available on the local authority's website

Is there any other support available?

Yes, the combined authorities that have negotiated Tier 3 restrictions have also agreed financial support packages with the government and local authorities will choose how to distribute the money.

For example, Liverpool City Council is offering further one-off grants for businesses affected by the measures.

They have also set up a fund to help businesses expand outdoor seating provision and purchase heaters.

West Lancashire Council has set up a similar support grant on top of the ones made available by the government.

As more areas negotiate their own Tier 3 support packages they will decide on their own schemes to support local businesses, with all information available on their websites.

What about nationwide support for businesses?

The government is still running several support packages for businesses nationwide, including the one-off payments for retaining staff and VAT discounts.

The government has made a tool that tells each business what support they qualify for, which you can access here.