Lincolnshire businesses cautiously welcome Chancellor’s latest help

Businesses is Lincolnshre say that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s one-off grants for hospitality, leisure and retail are welcome but that it won’t go far.

Mr Sunak announced funding totalling £4.6 billion for hard-pressed UK firms in the three sectors to protect jobs in the third national lockdown.

Eligible companies can claim a grant of to £9,000. Businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or less can claim £4,000, with £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value from £15,000 to £51,000.

And £9,000 is available for businesses with a rateable value of more than £51,000.

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The Chancellor also announced a £594 million discretionary fund for other firms affected by lockdown plus a further £1.1 billion for local councils and Local Restriction Support Grants of up to £3,000 a month.

The furlough scheme has also been extended to April.

Katie Buncombe, 31, from the Red Lion Inn, at Stickford, near Boston, who has had to cancel many functions and charity events due to the pandemic, fears low rateable values locally mean that firms won’t benefit hugely.

She said: “The grant is based on three bands of rateable values so you can claim £4,000 in the £0 to £15,000 band, £6,000 for £15,000 to £51,000 and £9,000 for above that.

“Most places around here and in villages are in the lower rateable value band so most of us are getting the lowest level of grant.

“Anything will help and I’m grateful for anything but it’s not very much.”



The Red Lion Inn, Stickford

Katie is still offering a takeaway service from 4pm to 8pm Monday to Saturday.

She also launched a shop at the pub on Wednesday, January 6, which opens during the same hours and sells essentials including bread, milk, tea and coffee and handwash.

She added: “I don’t think the Government are doing a bad job, but it’s an impossible position. I do think the national lockdown is a good thing.”

Laura Connolly commented on our Boston News and View Facebook group that she would like to see the end of Covid-19 and feels that lockdown will help.

She wrote: “I’m happy to stay at home in lockdown for winter and even have my child doing online lessons.

“The Government is paying furlough so my business can be on hold. If we actually all pulled together for the next couple of months we could all enjoy the spring and summer.

“I would also like the schools to think about doing lessons in the usual holiday break times. Kids should go to summer school when the sun is out and all windows can be open.

“They won’t need a summer break since they’ve not been at school much. Online lessons for sixth form is only a couple hours a week.

“The same old routines have to stop.”



Boston town centre on the first day of the new lockdown

Katrina Pierce, development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses in Lincolnshire, said: ”This new round of grants is welcome but after such a tough 2020, Lincolnshire businesses are now facing an even more difficult start to 2021 than we could have expected which means Government needs to go further.

“Firstly, these grants are not as generous as the first round paid out in Spring last year and after almost a year of the most difficult trading conditions possible, businesses frankly need a stronger shot in the arm in the form of cash.

“Secondly, there are still many groups excluded from support including directors and start-ups and we need to see a formal package of support to help them make it through this hard home straight.

“The self-employed will need assurances of more grants, and finally grants are really only making an attempt to cover costs; we need to see a ‘German style’ system of revenue replacement kick in as soon as possible.

“Without further help, far too many Lincolnshire firms may be facing their last days of trade which will be a tragedy.”

Simon Beardsley, chief executive of Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce, said the third national lockdown was a blow for many businesses which once again have to shut their doors for an extended period of time.

He said: “The announcement of extra business grants is welcome – however we realise a grant is of course no substitute for an open business.

“What we need to see now is a clear support package for the whole year and Government must move away from this drip-feed approach and set out a longer term plan, allowing businesses to plan, and ultimately survive.

“It is vital that the businesses who are not eligible for this new grant get given clear instructions on what money will be available to them as soon as possible, and when this can be received, to help them plan for the difficult six weeks ahead.”