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New calls for business support emerge after Plan B announcement

After the announcement of the government’s new Plan B COVID measures, the government is under pressure from national trade unions to provide businesses with financial support. The new measures, which include vaccine passports for some venues, working from home guidance and mandatory face coverings for public venues and transport, could necessitate the reestablishment of a furlough scheme if jobs are threatened.

The new working from home guidance could have a catastrophic impact on retail and hospitality businesses that rely on worker footfall, as city centres and towns become empty once again. The hospitality trade association, UK Hospitality, has stated that the government must provide businesses with full business rates relief, extended VAT reduction, rent protection and grants to keep UK businesses afloat financially.

GMB Union is calling for similar measures taken in 2020, including full sick pay for all workers who are absent for COVID-related reasons so that they can provide for their families safely.

The founder of Small Business Britain, Michelle Ovens, has stated that many small firms are only just beginning to recover from the previous national lockdowns and are in need of a boost in winter trading. SBB has called for business rates to be cut entirely, the recovery loan scheme to be extended, and for cashflow leeway from HMRC and utility companies.

A spokesperson for the Treasury has released a statement saying that the government is “acting early to help control the virus’s spread – while avoiding unduly damaging economic and social restrictions”.

They said, “Our £400bn COVID support package will continue to help businesses into spring next year and we will continue to respond proportionately to the changing path of the virus, as we have done since the start of the pandemic”.

There are still several measures in place until 2022, including government-backed loans, grants, business rates relief and protection from eviction.

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