Restart Grants and UK Visa System announcements
key update from John Bridge OBE DL

Again we see key information critical to business being provided to the press at the weekend this time at 10.30pm on a Saturday night!

Restart Grants

Good news for many but not for the forgotten.

  • The Chancellor is going to announce firms in retail, hospitality, accommodation, leisure and personal care will benefit from the new £5bn Restart Grant Scheme as the economy reopens
  • Businesses who have suffered due to COVID restrictions expected to receive cash grants of up to £18,000 to support them through the next stage of recovery
  • The extra funding takes the total spent on direct grants to businesses during the pandemic to £25 billion.
Thousands of businesses hit hardest by the pandemic are to be helped back onto their feet through a £5bn new grant scheme, the Chancellor will announce at Wednesday’s budget.

Rishi Sunak is set to announce that shops, pubs, clubs, hotels restaurants, gyms and hair salons will be among nearly 700,000 companies eligible for new direct cash grants of up to £18,000.

The funding - which takes the total spent on direct grants to businesses during pandemic to £25 billion - will ensure firms can reopen and get going again as restrictions ease and people return to their high streets.

As a Chamber in conjunction with the British Chambers, we have campaigned hard for additional grants to support the cash flow of our hardest-hit businesses, particularly those who have faced severe restrictions or closure in recent months. We welcome the announcement of these additional cash grants, which will be a lifeline for many firms as they look to restart and rebuild over the challenging months ahead. The Government and local authorities must now make sure that cash gets to the front line fast.

While the announcement of additional grants is positive, a support plan that covers the rest of 2021 would really help to build business confidence. That means removing the immediate cliff edges on support by continuing the furlough scheme and VAT deferrals for as long as they are needed. Business rates relief for the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors should also continue until next year.

Critically, the government needs to send the right signals to firms and investors by avoiding hasty rises in business taxation. The best way to raise money for the Exchequer will be to give companies the breathing space they need, as the economy reopens, to generate revenue and return to profit.

Regretfully many small businesses and individuals have still not received any support from the government and this recent announcement does not redress any of those issues.

We will keep you updated as we receive more detailed information.

UK Visa System changes to fast track top talent to Global Britain

  • The Chancellor is expected to announce immigration system reforms to attract the brightest global talent and drive economic growth
  • A new high-skilled jobs route will boost UK firms’ international competitiveness
  • Streamlined sponsorship process to cut red tape and burden on business.
British businesses will be able to attract the brightest and best international talent to the UK under ambitious reforms to the migration system, the Chancellor is expected to announce at Budget next week.

Rishi Sunak will outline a series of targeted reforms to encourage high-skilled workers including researchers, engineers, scientists and those in the tech sector, to come to work at UK firms and help maintain Britain’s position as a top destination for world-class overseas workers.

Central to the changes will be a new “elite” points-based route that will help start-ups and fast-growing firms like fintechs recruit the talent they need to innovate and grow. As part of the route, highly skilled migrants with a job offer from a recognised high-growth firm will qualify for a visa without the need for sponsorship or third-party endorsement.

This change will be welcome as ensuring the immigration system is clear, fast and low cost for businesses is critical to guaranteeing firms get the skills they need to restart the economy. The real test of this initiative is whether it is clearly understood by firms and delivered quickly enough to really make a difference to companies across the UK.

Again we will update you with full details when they are available.

Contact the Chamber

01223 237414 •
Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce
Clifford House, 2 Station Yard, Oakington, Cambridge, CB24 3AH