GRANTS of up to £18,000 will be given out to help shops, pubs and restaurants reopen, it was announced today.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget included the "restart grants" as part of a £5billion boost for the high street.

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The scheme aims to help Britain's economy recover from a horror year brought on by the Covid pandemic.

Non-essential retail businesses, which can open in mid-April, will be able to receive grants of up to £6,000 per premises.

Hospitality and leisure businesses, such as gyms, can get up to £18,000, as they will open later.

Announcing the scheme, Mr Sunak said: "We’ve been providing businesses with direct cash grants throughout the recent restrictions. These grants come to an end in March.

"I can announce today that we’ll provide a new Restart Grant in April, to help businesses reopen and get going again."

The £5billion grant scheme means that a total of £25billion has been pumped into struggling businesses since the first lockdown began last March.

The Chancellor hopes the grants will breathe new life into nearly 700,000 businesses.

Mr Sunak told the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday that the £5 billion scheme was the "right thing to do now".

He added that the grants would allow for the "support they need to get themthrough, get them back on their feet".


What is the Budget?

THE Budget is when the government outlines its plans for tax hikes, cuts and things like changes to the minimum wage.

The Budget is read out in the House of Commons by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It will be Rishi Sunak's second Budget as Chancellor.

It's different to the Spending Review, which sets out how much public cash will go towards funding certain departments, devolved government's and services, such as the NHS.

Mr Sunak's first one in March last year has been dubbed the "coronavirus Budget" after it focused on supporting Brits financially through the crisis, rather than the government's "levelling up" agenda as promised in the 2019 general election.

Normally, the Budget is held once a year but the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic in 2020 saw Mr Sunak give a "mini-budget" in the Commons on July 8.

More than 230,000 hotels, clubs, bars, gyms and leisure firms will be eligible for the grants of up to £18,000.

Under the scheme, 450,000 non-essential shops will get up to £6,000 per premises to help reopen.

But in a blow for big businesses, Mr Sunak announced corporation tax would be hiked up to 25% in the Budget.

The Chancellor said the rate will be raised from 19% from April 2023 as he looks to plug the huge black hole in the country's pandemic-ravaged finances.

It marks a screeching reversal of the UK's decade-long drive to cut corporation tax, which was slashed from 28% in 2010 by then-Conservative chancellor George Osborne.

This raising of corporation tax to 25% means the UK can will still boast of having the lowest rate in the G7.

Meanwhile, shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens said yesterday that the Chancellor must "right the wrong" and help self-employed workers, freelancers and others who have been "excluded" from receiving financial support.

She also told MPs: "We've heard about the topping up of the pot for theatres but people who work in theatres still don't know how long they can be furloughed for.

"Self-employed people have no idea what level their next grant will be, freelancers have still been left out of the support altogether, the industry faces a VAT cliff edge at the end of the month – and none of that needs to wait until tomorrow's Budget.

"It should have been clarified by the Government weeks ago.

"At least 55,000 culture jobs have already gone, nearly a third of the arts element of the workforce, and two thirds of people who have lost their jobs in this sector have already decided they cannot risk returning to it – meaning those skills and talent are lost to our economy.

"The Government should be going out of their way to save those jobs."

Self-employed workers are also to benefit from a fourth coronavirus grant worth £7,500.

The furlough scheme is also being extended to support workers while businesses get back on their feet after lockdown.

The contactless payment limit is also set to rise from £45 to £100.

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