The Chancellor announced a number of welcome measures today for businesses and people with jobs that have been affected by additional social distancing restrictions:
💷 A more generous Job Support Scheme with employers contributing significantly less.
💷 Cash grants for hospitality and leisure businesses in Tier 2 – worth up to £2,100 a month and backdated to August.
💷 A doubling of the self-employment grant from 20% to 40% of self-employed people’s profits.
Much of this support is targeted at areas in Tier 2 which have much higher rates of Covid-19 than Ipswich does but hopefully it will be reassuring for businesses that, as of today, a far more generous support package will be available if the worst comes to the worst and Ipswich is moved to Tier 2 further down the line. However Tier 2 is a long way off for Ipswich and clearly I hope we never get to the point where Tier 2 is necessary.
I’ve been calling for a flexible and localised approach to protecting lives, livelihoods and liberties through this pandemic and it’s good this support package reflects that. It’s also right that these measures support businesses which remain open but are impacted by additional restrictions alongside support that is available for businesses which have had to close.
After his statement, I asked the Chancellor about supporting pubs through the winter by allowing them to use grants to help them purchase equipment like heaters and gazebos which would allow people to continue to eat, drink and socialise outdoors. Clearly in Tier 2, where groups of up to 6 from different households can only socialise outside, having this equipment available is absolutely critical. Even in places in Tier 1 like Ipswich, where social distancing is in place, this is an important way pubs can use the space available to them to welcome more customers.
We need to think carefully about how we can support businesses, including in Ipswich’s hospitality sector, to stay open as much as possible. On the other hand it’s clear that the Labour Party’s approach of shutting Ipswich’s pubs and restaurants down completely, despite the low levels of Covid-19 in our town, would be a hammer blow to them and put the livelihoods of many who work in the sector at risk.
I’ll continue to follow all aspects of Chancellor’s announcement today and what it means for pubs and other businesses in Ipswich.