Rishi Sunak faces pressure to announce fresh emergency support package for workers and businesses after tough new Covid restrictions were launched days before Christmas
- Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds warned Mr Sunak ‘must come out of hiding’
- Chancellor announced an extension to the furlough scheme until the end of April
- British Independent Retailers Association said closures of shops will be ‘severe’
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is faced with pressure to announce a fresh emergency support package for businesses and workers following tough Covid-19 restrictions.
Shop owners are fearful of a new crisis on the High Street after London and the south-east was plunged into Tier Four in the run-up to the busy Christmas period.
Chief executive of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson said the effect of closing non-essential retail in Tier Four will be ‘severe’ and the High Street now faces losing £2billion in sales for the third time this year.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is faced with pressure to announce a fresh emergency support package for businesses and workers following tough Covid-19 restrictions
After Tier 4 restrictions were imposed on Sunday, footfall across all retail destinations in Tier 4 is now 64.3 per cent lower than in 2019. It has declined by 75.5 per cent in shopping centres, and 71 per cent in high streets.
Sumen Sumen, manager of the popular Plant Warehouse, in Bethnal Green, London, told The Guardian on Saturday night that it was ‘absolutely disgusting’ that he would have to close six days before Christmas.
Speaking about the perishable nature of his stock, he added: ‘I find it heartbreaking that we are going to have to close before Christmas.’
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds has warned that Mr Sunak ‘must come out of hiding’ and clarify the economic support available in light of the restrictions.
She said: ‘This last-minute announcement will have plunged many businesses into chaos. Yet in these difficult times the Chancellor is nowhere to be seen.’
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds has warned that Mr Sunak ‘must come out of hiding’ and clarify the economic support available in light of the restrictions
Ms Dodds explained how Mr Sunak should use the £2billion handed back to the Treasury by supermarkets and larger shops to support hard-hit hospitality businesses.
The British Independent Retailers Association criticised the closure of non-essential shops as ‘disastrous’.
It called for support for small shopowners who will lose out as consumers rush to supermarkets and the few other stores, such as DIY warehouses, which can remain open.
The British Independent Retailers Association criticised the closure of non-essential shops as ‘disastrous’. Pictured: A member of staff lowers the shutters at a shop on Oxford Street, London
Chief executive Andrew Goodacre added that ‘closing Covid-secure non-essential shops at this time of year does not deter people from coming out’.
He warned: ‘It only leads to larger crowds in those stores left to trade, giving every opportunity for this virus to spread.’
The British Retail Consortium has been accused by industry insiders of failing to use the rhetoric needed to spell out the true scale of the crisis.
After the latest closures, chief executive Helen Dickinson said: ‘This is hugely regrettable news’. Pictured: People on Oxford Street following Tier Four restrictions
After the latest closures, chief executive Helen Dickinson said: ‘This is hugely regrettable news.
‘Retailers have invested hundreds of millions of pounds making stores Covid-secure.
‘The consequences of this decision will be severe. The Government’s stop-start approach is deeply unhelpful.
‘This decision comes only two weeks after the end of the last national lockdown and in the middle of peak trading.
‘Faced with this news and the prospect of losing £2billion per week in sales for the third time this year, many businesses will be in serious difficulty and many thousands of jobs could be at risk.’
The Chancellor announced an extension to the furlough scheme until the end of April 2021 last week and struggling businesses will have until the end of March to access Treasury-backed business loans.
Mr Sunak also stated that a Budget for March 3 to set out the next phase of the plan to tackle the virus and protect jobs.
A spokesman for the Treasury told MailOnline: ‘The Government has stood by businesses throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so.
‘Our package of support is designed to adjust in line with the level of restrictions in place and that is what is already happening here.
‘Businesses impacted by this weekend’s announcements will benefit from grants worth up to £3,000 a month if they are closed, and up to £2,100 a month if they are open but severely impacted.
‘That is on top of the furlough scheme, which we have confirmed will remain in place until the end of April, business rates write-offs, tax deferrals, government backed loans and additional funding for local authorities to support business in their areas.
‘Taken together this is one of the most generous packages of support in the world.’
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