Ahead of this week's Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new £5 billion grant scheme to help England's struggling high street businesses recover as coronavirus restrictions begin to ease.
Replacing the existing monthly Local Restrictions Grants, the new 'restart' grants are expected to help almost 700,000 companies including shops, pubs, clubs, hotels, restaurants, gyms and hair salons.
Non-essential retail businesses will be eligible for grants of up to £6,000 per premises to help them reopen and begin trading safely. Hospitality, hotels, leisure, personal care and gyms, set to reopen later with further restrictions in place, can access up to £18,000, depending on their rateable value.
The Treasury estimates 230,000 firms will be eligible for the higher band, which will be awarded based on their rateable value, and 450,000 shops will also be able to apply.
The £5 billion is targeted at England, however, the devolved nations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive an extra £794 million in funding through the Barnett formula.
Rishi Sunak said:
'Our local businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic which is why we went big and went early with a multi-billion pound package of support.
'There's now light at the end of the tunnel and this £5 billion of extra cash grants will ensure our high streets can open their doors with optimism.'
Local authorities will administer and distribute the grants in their areas from April 2021.