ONE million pounds a month will be offered to businesses until the end of March 31 so they can overcome the COVID-19 crisis.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said in Parliament the BEAT 4.0 measures were designed to ‘protect jobs and our economy as best as we can’.
The grant scheme will be increased from 20% to 30% of normal income, trying to save as many companies as possible from going bankrupt over the normally busy Christmas shopping season.
The total amount a business receives will be based on the amount calculated from the first BEAT payments during the first lockdown.
Half of shop, hotel, bar and restaurant workers can now be made redundant in BEAT 4.0, compared to 30% in BEAT 3.0 in October and November.
Rates for these businesses will not have to be paid in the first three months of the year, with a 25% early rates payment discount for all other companies who pay on time.
Private landlords will be urged to do the same or face high taxes if they do not.
Amendments to the Insolvency Act will be extended until March 31, to prevent companies from going under.
Loans will also be provided, backed by the government to ensure these companies can have a lifeline, with payments only due from April.
“This year the Christmas takings will not be so strong in the hospitality industry,” said Picardo.
“There will be less tourists coming to visit to eat or shop.
“The long term, economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic to our Community are highly uncertain.”
Businesses now have until December 18 to confirm they will take part in the latest scheme.
The first payments will be made on December 21 and will continue until the end of the 24-month financial year on March 31.
Despite the ‘serious strain’ on the economy, he said the hope that a ‘mass vaccination’ campaign could help start the fightback.
“It is by keeping our economy on this life-support system that we can avoid a longer term increase in our welfare spending,” concluded the Chief Minister.
“Together I have every confidence that we will all see much better times to come.”