U.K. to Pledge $7 Billion in Grants to Help Struggling Firms

The U.K. is set to create a 5 billion-pound ($7 billion) grant program to help businesses that have been hard hit by the pandemic.

The ‘Restart’ program will mostly apply to retail, hospitality and leisure -- the industries that have been impacted most by the series of lockdowns imposed in the last year. The plan will be announced Wednesday as part of the release of the national budget, according to a statement from the Treasury department.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a roadmap out of lockdown earlier this month, prioritizing the return of schools and outdoor activities over reopening stores, bars and restaurants. Shuttering much of the economy has pushed the U.K. into its worst recession in 300 years and a raft of government support measures has led to a surge in debt.

Under the new program, non-essential retail businesses will be eligible for up to 6,000 pounds per location to help them reopen and start trading safely as the economy emerges out of the nationwide lockdown. Gyms, pubs, hairdressers and hotel restaurants -- which will open later or will be more impacted by restrictions -- will get up to 18,000 pounds per location.

“Our local businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic – which is why we went big and went early with a multi-billion pound package of support,” Chancellor Rishi Sunak said in a statement. “There’s now light at the end of the tunnel and this 5 billion pounds of extra cash grants will ensure our high street can open their doors with optimism.”

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