Yesterday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a number of measures in his Winter Economy Plan to support struggling businesses through the upcoming months.
The main proposal is a Jobs Support Scheme, which is designed to replace furlough. It means that workers will get up to two-thirds of their wages paid jointly by employers and Government even if they can’t work their normal hours due to COVID; in order to try to avoid further job losses.
All small and medium-sized businesses are eligible, but larger businesses must show their turnover has fallen during the crisis. Employers can use it even if they have not previous used the furlough scheme it replaces. It will run for six months from November.
Those businesses who have taken out bounce back loans during the lockdown now have longer to pay them back – with the initial six years extended to 10. Businesses who have difficulties paying back the loans can move to interest-only payments or even take a six-month payment holiday without damaging their credit ratings.
The government guarantee on Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans will also be extended to 10 years and a new successor loan guarantee programme will be announced in January.
The temporary reduction of VAT from 20% to 5% will remain in place until 31 March 2021 for those sectors currently benefitting – however this has not been extended to new sectors.
The Chancellor also announced extra support to help people with their income tax bills – but emphasised they would still need to be paid. Those with tax debt of up to £30,000 will be able to set up a payment plan for 12 months to January 2022.
“There are some positives to be taken from today’s announcement from the Chancellor,” says John White, CEO of bacta. “Those with staff on furlough or unable to support staff with reduced working hours will benefit from the Jobs Support Scheme. It’s also good to know that businesses have longer to pay back their loans. However – what we really need right now is for the Chancellor to reduce VAT to 5% for seaside arcades and to cut MGD to 5% to
support high streets and pubs. With approaching a third of our industry workforce either having lost their job already or currently under threat of losing it – we are also calling for the Chancellor to offer universal rates relief for 2021/22 across the industry and supply chain.”
Bacta represents the owners and operators of seaside amusement arcades, over-18 amusement centres, and the companies that hire machines to pubs, clubs, bowling alleys, bingo halls and similar venues. It also represents the manufacturers and distributors of all types of amusement equipment. This can range from children’s rides, to jukeboxes, fruit machines in pubs and clubs, crane grabbers, penny falls, tuppeny nudgers, test your strength machines, videos, pool tables and gaming machines