Stamford Chamber of Commerce chairman tentatively welcomes Budget
The hard-hit hospitality and retail sectors were among those to receive help from one of the most keenly-anticipated Budgets in many years.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a new restart grant in today's Budget that would be provided in April to help businesses re-open as lockdown begins to ease.
Non-essential retailers, who are due to reopen first, will receive grants of up to £6,000 per premises.
Other high street businesses, such as hospitality and leisure businesses, will then receive grants of up to £18,000 per premises, while the 100 per cent business rates holiday will be extended until the end of June.
Stamford Chamber of Commerce chairman Richard Olsen welcomed the move, but questioned whether the grants will go far enough.
"The grants will be crucial to get them back on their feet," he said.
"Whether the grants will be enough, I don't know.
"They have helped retailers cover their rent, but not much else, and it's not creating income for themselves.
"They need people through the doors. That is the only thing that will make a difference to them and that is something that has not been addressed."
Mr Olsen also welcomed the extension of the furlough scheme which will be made available to business until the end of September, almost 18 months after its introduction.
"Furlough is great news for business, as is self-employed support, to keep them going and keep people in employment.
"But maybe it should be more specifically aimed at industries which have been most affected.
"Is it a great budget? It's okay, probably as good as it could be in the circumstances.
"I think he's done the best he could do with the constraints he had."
Other headline points in today's Budget were the increase in corporation tax to 25% from 2023, and the decision to extend the temporary £20 a week universal credit increase until the end of September.
National Insurance and VAT rates will not go up, and fuel duty has been frozen again, but more people will be pushed into the top income tax bracket.
Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton said the Budget showed the Government will not leave anyone behind.
“For Rutland and Melton, I particularly welcome the support given to business," she said.
"I know that businesses across the constituency will welcome the grants of £18,000 to hospitality and £6,000 to non-essential retail that will let them re-open safely, and allow thousands across Rutland and Melton to return to work.
“The freeze in fuel duty is important for us all locally. In a rural area, life is all too often dependent on the ability to drive; for work, to shop and to see friends and family.
“Of course, pubs are the heart of our communities, and the extension of the five per cent VAT rate to September, and the freezing of alcohol duty, are both measures I have pushed for to protect rural hospitality businesses.
“This budget prepares the UK’s economy to re-open, for good. It is a good thing for the people of Rutland and Melton.”