The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced that Northern Ireland will receive a total of £127 million in a bid to keep businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors afloat, as all parts of the UK settle into some form of lockdown for the next few weeks at least.
Business Relief Packages
This money will help to support businesses badly affected by the pandemic and the subsequent restrictions, with the Chancellor saying that he will review whether any support packages will need extending when the first Budget of the year comes round on March 3rd.
New Strain Of The Virus Presents A Huge Challenge
Here is what Chancellor Sunak said, as quoted on the Q Radio website:
“The new strain of the virus presents us all with a huge challenge – and whilst the vaccine is being rolled out, we have needed to tighten restrictions further.
“Throughout the pandemic we’ve taken swift action to protect lives and livelihoods, and today we’re announcing a further cash injection to support businesses and jobs until the spring.
“This will help businesses to get through the months ahead – and crucially it will help sustain jobs, so workers can be ready to return when they are able to reopen.”
And on the possibility of further support down the line, in particular over business rates relief and sick pay improvements, he said:
“We’ll have a Budget in early March, where we’ll take stock of all the various support that we’ve put in place, including today’s announcement of cash grants, and then review and set out the next stage of our economic response to coronavirus at that point.”
Current Lockdown Major Blow To The Business Community
The current lockdown is yet another blow to businesses and the economy as a whole here in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. But the government really had no choice in the matter as the new variant of the virus is spreading at a much faster rate than previously, which of course is a major health concern.
Everything must be done to beat the virus, so keeping people as isolated as possible from one another until the vaccines are fully rolled out is really the only course of action to take. However it is crucial that all businesses are given the financial aid required to support them through this lockdown period. The financial packages need to be transferred to the business community as quickly as it is humanly possible, as time is not on the side of many of them, and any delay could have disastrous consequences.