CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak has announced a financial aid package for parts of England in tier 2 coronavirus restrictions – including Cheshire.

It follows pressure from Chester's business community, Chester MP Chris Matheson and Cheshire West and Chester Council leader Louise Gittins as they urgently sought vital funding to save Chester's hospitality and tourism industries.

The impact of neighbouring areas such as Flintshire, Wrexham and the Liverpool City Region going into tighter restrictions, preventing residents from crossing the border into west Cheshire, has had a huge knock-on effect on Chester businesses in recent weeks, with city footfall down by more than a quarter in three weeks and a collapse in bookings.

It led Chester BID to say hundreds of city businesses were now 'at the point of collapse'.

Now the Government's Chancellor of the Exchequer has unveiled a package of support for areas such as Cheshire, and London – which has just been placed into tier 2 itself.

Speaking at the House of Commons on Thursday, October 22, Mr Sunak acknowledged that businesses which were open but struggling required further support.

He said he would provide enough funding to give every business in hospitality, leisure and accommodation a grant worth up to £2,100 every month Tier 2 restrictions apply.

That is 70 per cent of the amount businesses in Tier 3 restricted areas are getting.

He added these are additional to the grants of up to £3,000 available for businesses who have been legally required to close.

They'll also be retrospective grants, backdating as far back as August, if they’ve been operating in areas with enhanced restrictions since then.

He added the Government would be doubling self-employed grants from 20 per cent to 40 per cent, meaning the maximum grant will go up from £1,875 to £3,750.

Grants are available for all self-employed people in all tiers (ie including Cheshire) who've stopped trading or have a significant fall in trade, with two further payments to come.

Mr Sunak said: “Just as we have throughout this crisis, we will listen and respond to people’s concerns as the situation demands.

“And I make no apology for responding to changing circumstances and so today we go further.”

He added: “We will fund local authorities to provide businesses in their area with direct cash grants.

“It will be up to local authorities to decide how best to distribute these grants, giving them the necessary flexibility to respond to local economic circumstances.

“But I am providing enough funding to give every businesses premises in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors a direct grant worth up to £2,100 for every month Tier 2 restrictions apply.

“That is equivalent to 70 per cent of the value of the grants available for closed businesses in Tier 3.”

The Chancellor has also changed the Jobs Support Scheme, which comes into effect when the furlough scheme ends at the end of the month, to see a larger contribution from Government.

“I am making two changes to the short-time work scheme to make it easier for those businesses to keep staff on rather than make them redundant,” he said.

“First, under the original scheme employees had to work for 33 per cent of their normal hours. Now we will ask them to work only 20 per cent of those hours.

“Second, the employer contribution for the hours not worked will not be 33 per cent as originally planned, or even 20 per cent as it is in the October furlough scheme, it will reduce to 5 per cent and the scheme will apply to eligible businesses in all alert levels.”