County Council welcomes Government support for Essex businesses following lobbying from business leaders and Essex councils

Friday, October 23, 2020

Yesterday, Essex County Council, alongside MPs, Essex businesses and all councils in Essex, wrote to the government to set out the case for greater business support for High local Covid alert level areas.

Today, Thursday 22 October, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, delivered a statement to the House of Commons on the economic support for businesses in these areas. Before today’s announcement, no area in the country in the High local Covid alert level was receiving this support.  

The Chancellor announced three steps that the government would be taking, including:

  • A new grant scheme for businesses who have been impacted by tier 2 restrictions, even if they have not been forced to close. Local authorities will be funded so that they can provide cash grants to local businesses. It would be up to local authorities to decide how best to distribute the grants.
  • A more generous Job Support Scheme where employees now have to work 20 per cent of normal hours, as opposed to 33 per cent previous. The revised scheme will also see employer contributions for the hours not worked reduce significantly from 33 per cent as originally planned, to 5 per cent. This scheme will apply to all eligible businesses in all alert levels.
  • An increase in contributions to the incomes of the self-employed. The government will be doubling the next round of self-employed income support from 20 per cent to 40 per cent of people's incomes. Increasing the maximum grant to £3,750.

In addition, following today’s announcement and due to the county’s move to the High local Covid alert level, Essex's hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses are now able to secure government support of £2,100 per month, which was not available when the county was in the medium level. 

Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Cllr Tony Ball said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement today,  which will significantly support our local businesses, particularly those in the hospitality sector.

“I am pleased to see that many of issues we lobbied the government on have been acted upon. However, we are not complacent and will continue working with our district partners and the business community to ensure they are continually supported and address whether any additional support is required.

“We understand the pressure that moving into high local Covid alert has put on local businesses, however in order to reduce the rate of infection, protect lives, the NHS and our local economy, the decision was completely necessary.

“We will continue to do all we can to support those in need during these unprecedented times.”

Essex County Council has also now received confirmation that it expects to receive £4.5m as a result of moving into high local Covid alert level. This funding will be specifically earmarked for supporting vulnerable groups and workplaces. The County Council will now work through how and when this funding will be distributed.