Lancashire business groups welcome new coronavirus rates aid for firms which have missed out

The government's extension of the business rates aid has been greeted with relief by business organisations in Lancashire.

The Government has said it is making £1.5bn available in business rates relief for firms that have been unable to get current support which has been targeted at hospitality, retail and leisure firms.

It said the money will be distributed to sectors which have “suffered most economically” outside the current rates holiday. Previously, certain businesses, mainly in supply chains, have not qualified for aid.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Providing this extra support will get cash to businesses who need it most, quickly and fairly."

Babs Murphy from the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce welcomed the move but said many firms needed the help quickly.

She said: “We are delighted that the Government has listened and acted on our call for additional measures to help businesses and their supply chains. Discounts to rates bills is a positive step and very much welcomed by the business community.

"This will ease the burden on their cash flow, in particular those firms which have been hardest hit. It will provide much needed headroom to navigate through these most difficult of times.

“To maximise impact its essential for the local authorities to ensure that this support gets to businesses as quickly as possible without needless holdups. If necessary, the Treasury also needs to stand prepared and top up the fund to ensure businesses are not disadvantaged as they prepare to restart, rebuild and renew.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak

National chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, which has its HQ in Blackpool, Mike Cherry said it was good news for many smaller businesses.

He said: "Although there is light at the end of the tunnel, these remain uncertain times for many businesses who won't be functioning at full capacity for a numbers of months to come.

"That is why small firms will be relieved to hear the announcement of a fresh set of business rates relief​ targeted at those businesses outside of the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors that have lost trade but have been left to pay business rate bills in full often without revenue to afford them”.

"Many of those businesses such as wholesalers, suppliers and brewers have been hit hard by the pandemic but haven't been able to access the same levels of support. FSB has championed the cause for these businesses at the Budget, and we are pleased that this has landed”

Mike Cherry from the FSB

"What is crucial however is ensuring that these funds genuinely reach those who need it most so we look forward to the guidance of which businesses will fall into scope​. While at the same time we must​ see these funds distributed as fast as possible to prevent further small business casualties.”

Richard Watts, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said: “The Government is continuing to provide a significant package of business rates relief to help businesses through the pandemic.

“Not all businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are covered by the reliefs announced up to this point and may struggle to pay business rates amid the ongoing economic fall-out of the pandemic.

“We are pleased the Government will provide councils with funding to offer grant relief to businesses which have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and seen their circumstances change due to the effects of the pandemic."