Welsh Government minister outlines financial support for businesses

The Minister for Economy and Transport has set out the economic measures the Welsh Government is taking to help businesses through the two week lockdown.

Speaking earlier today (Tuesday, October 20), Ken Skates said the firebreak was aimed at attempting to bring coronavirus under control and to give the economy the best chance of coming through the crisis.

Providing more detail around the financial support available, Mr Skates said the third phase of the Economic Resilience Fund involved nearly £300m of Welsh Government funding. He said:

  • Grants of £1,000 will be available to businesses eligible for Small Business Rates relief and occupying a property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less whether or not they are required to close.
  • Grants of £5,000 will be available to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses required to close during the firebreak and occupying a property with a rateable value between £12,001 and £50,000.
  • Business will be automatically eligible for these elements and only need update their information and bank details via Business Wales or their local authority to access funding.
  • In addition, a discretionary £2,000 top-up grant will be made available on an application basis for businesses closed or materially affected by the firebreak lockdown.
  • And a further discretionary £1,000 grant will be made available to businesses on the same basis where they have been materially affected by local lockdown measures for 21 days or more prior to the start of the firebreak.
  • A further £20m is also being put into Business Grants with the Welsh Government removing the co-funding requirement for businesses required to close during the firebreak lockdown period. This means £100m in business grants will be available for firms of all sizes.

Mr Skates said: “Those who are self-employed will be able to continue to access the UK Government’s extended Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

“However, for some, that support may not be enough, so they’ll also be eligible to apply for the local discretionary grant funding which will be operated by local authorities.

“As during earlier periods of support through our Economic Resilience Fund, small businesses applying for Business Grants will be asked to sign-up to the principles of the Welsh Government’s Economic Contract – ensuring that despite the crisis we continue to work together in taking on the longer term challenges of decarbonisation, fair work and higher skills.

“Medium sized and larger businesses receiving a grant will be expected to sign a full Economic Contract.”

He said he recognised businesses in Wales were facing an incredibly difficult time over the next few weeks.

He said: “Through the firebreak businesses will be supported with a combination of UK Government and Welsh Government support.

“Businesses should be able to receive Job Retention Scheme support for eligible employees for the period between October 23 October 31, and the new Enhanced Job Support Scheme from November 1.

“I realise that having to access two different forms of support is far from ideal and that some businesses will struggle to take full advantage at this late stage of the Job Retention Scheme.

“As the First Minister explained yesterday, we pressed the Chancellor to bring forward the new Job Support Scheme to ensure that all those working for businesses which are forced to close would receive financial support for all employees and would not have to access two schemes during the firebreak.

“We even offered to make up the difference between the funding for each employee under the Job Retention Scheme and the Job Support Scheme. But the UK Government has so far refused this offer.

“We are continuing to press the Treasury to do all they can to ensure employees and employers in Wales will benefit from UK Government support during the firebreak to the maximum possible extent.

“Countless businesses have told me in recent weeks how important the pre-Christmas period is to their trade. And we hope that through this two week firebreak we can give them a clear run at that important economic opportunity.”

For more information visit the Business Wales website or contact the Business Wales helpline.

Bridgend County Borough Council leader Councillor Huw David said: “We welcome the further clarity around funding support for businesses.

“As soon as the local authority has details on the administration of these grants we will let businesses know – all new grants will be added to the Bridgend County Borough Council webpage when they go live and communicated via social media and our business networks.”

Following yesterday’s announcement by the First Minister, Welsh Government published a series of frequently asked questions which includes further information for businesses such as estate agents, restaurants, pubs and hairdressers.

 

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