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Covid lifeline: Alok Sharma gives £2.2bn boost to firms forced to shut shops

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Alok Sharma said the Government will hand the cash to local authorities today to help employers in their area in the latest intervention to support the economy through the pandemic. The money will fund grants of up to £3,000 to businesses ordered to close their doors. Speaking at a Downing Street news conference, Mr Sharma said: “These will benefit 600,000 business premises.

“I can confirm today that we will be distributing £2.2billion to local authorities tomorrow to allow them to make these vital grant payments to businesses which have been affected.”

Mr Sharma said yesterday official figures showing the economic recovery from the first lockdown slowed in September were a reminder of “the vital importance of fighting this virus to protect our economy”.

He added: “Whilst the economy grew by 15 percent in the third quarter, it slowed in September and remains 8.2 percent below where we were in February.

“We in government understand acutely the human impact this statistic represents – it is jobs, livelihoods and families affected.

“So we will continue to support businesses now and as they recover.

“The Government has provided unprecedented levels of support for businesses over the past eight months. To date, that represents over £200billion in support.

“This is one of the most generous and comprehensive packages of financial support provided in the world, which the International Monetary Fund has praised.”

He pointed out that the Government had extended the furlough scheme to protect jobs, extended a grant scheme for the self-employed as well as offering the £3,000 grants to businesses.

Mr Sharma said: “All of these measures are designed to preserve jobs and help businesses stay afloat. Today, we have also announced that more than 19,000 jobs have been created so far through our Kickstart Scheme.

“I know how hard this job market is, particularly for young job seekers hoping to enter the workplace for the first time.

“The Kickstart Scheme is a ray of hope for young people.

“I speak to businesses everyday, and I can see, that despite the tough times, they are determined to soldier through this, through sheer hard work, innovation, resilience and invoking a real community spirit across the United Kingdom.”

And Mr Sharma told business leaders: “Despite the government’s support, when it comes down to it, it is you who are keeping this country going. You who are powering our economic recovery.” 

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