Bailout bill tops £100bn but struggling firms beg for more

Businesses are demanding more taxpayer cash to help them survive new lockdown restrictions, as the Treasury revealed the bill for propping up struggling firms has topped £100billion so far.

Six trade associations have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to extend the emergency loan schemes due to end this month.

Sunak has also come under mounting pressure to prolong the furlough scheme to avoid a wave of job losses.

Six trade associations have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) urging him to extend the emergency loan schemes due to end this month

Six trade associations have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) urging him to extend the emergency loan schemes due to end this month

Six trade associations have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) urging him to extend the emergency loan schemes due to end this month

Business leaders are calling for an extension for firms which will be hardest hit by new lockdown measures, which include 10pm curfews for pubs and restaurants in England and an instruction to work from home if you can.

This has raised fears of mass redundancies in the hospitality sector and among High Street retailers, which rely heavily on office workers.

As Premier Inn owner Whitbread announced plans to cut up to 6000 jobs, Nick Mackenzie, Greene King’s chief executive, said: ‘Pubs are just starting to get back on their feet after lockdown and these new restrictions are a significant setback.

‘We urgently need the Government to extend the furlough scheme for hospitality venues and confirm what additional support it will provide to protect jobs and the future of pubs.’

Yesterday, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, who recently backed Sunak’s decision to end the Job Retention Scheme on October 31, urged the Government to ‘stop and rethink the approach’.

In a webinar hosted by the British Chambers of Commerce, he said that future schemes should be targeted at the sectors most in need.

His intervention came as the Chancellor received a joint letter from a group of trade bodies including the Finance & Leasing Association, and the Consumer Credit Association, calling for extensions to emergency loan schemes. They said: ‘Now is not the time for the British Business Bank to curtail its support schemes.’

The Chancellor is already expected to extend the loans schemes, which were due to expire at the start of November, to the end of November.

But the plea for more support came as official figures revealed that more than £105billion has been dished out in emergency loans and wage subsidies for furloughed workers so far.

Banks have handed out £15.5billion to 66,585 firms under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

These loans are 80 per cent backed by the Government – meaning if firms become unable to pay, the taxpayer is on the hook.

And almost 1.3m Bounce Back loans, worth £38billion and which carry a 100 per cent Government guarantee, have been handed to smaller companies.

A total of £39.3billion has so far been claimed by 1.2m employers under the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme, which has supported 9.6m jobs at some stage during the crisis.

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