U.K. Scraps EU Caps, Tripling Covid Cash Companies Can Claim

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U.K. ministers scrapped a European Union cap on coronavirus-related state aid for businesses, tripling the grants that individual companies can claim.

The largest companies will now be able to claim as much as 10.9 million pounds ($15.2 million) of government support -- up from a previous EU threshold capped at 4 million euros (3.45 million pounds), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said Thursday in a statement.

“Now the U.K. can set its own rules and regulations, we are looking to make sure that ​they deliver for British businesses, workers and consumers,” the department said. Business Minister Paul Scully said on Twitter that the move will help retail and hospitality chains.

The change came after complaints that some retailers were locked out of claiming more grant cash during the country’s third coronavirus lockdown because the U.K. was still following the EU limits on Covid support, and they’d already received the maximum allowed. The U.K. completed the Brexit process on Dec. 31.

“The decision to apply EU state aid limits to lockdown grants should be reversed and all bureaucratic restrictions stopping businesses receiving these vital support funds promised by the chancellor should be removed,” the British Retail Consortium said last month in its budget submission.

Another industry group, UKHospitality, welcomed Thursday’s move as a “positive” step, while flagging that more could be done, because some businesses will still miss out on extra cash.

“It is a big step forward and provides certainty for business,” the group’s chief executive officer, Kate Nicholls, said in a statement. Ministers “could go further and explore uncapped grants in respect to Covid-19 in line with EU subsidy rules.”

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