CHESTER'S business and political leaders have reacted to the news the Chancellor is to provide extra financial support to hospitality businesses.

Earlier on Thursday, October 22, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a financial aid package for parts of England in Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions – including Cheshire.

It followed 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.

Mr Sunak 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.

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

Reacting to the news, Carl Critchlow, Chester BID manager, said: "While we are delighted that the Chancellor has recognised the 'significant fall in demand' that will do 'profound economic harm' and we of course welcome his acknowledgement of the perils to businesses sitting within Tier 2 restrictions, we cannot help but question whether this will be enough to stave off the impact in the specific case of Chester.

"Both the grants and the changes made to the Job Support Scheme will provide positive relief for many hospitality businesses.

"However, we are left disappointed at the lack of acknowledgement of retail.

"This is an oversight - especially in a city like Chester, where retail is both strongly independent and local and massively interlinked to leisure, tourism and hospitality.

"We believe the local authority will have the opportunity to grant awards to any business, and we have great confidence they will ensure it goes to those that need it most - but we would still welcome further reflection on this sector from the Chancellor."

Mr Matheson said: "I am very pleased that he [Mr Sunak] has listened to our calls for support.

"Chester was being crushed by areas on all sides with restrictions. We have made the case strongly and we now await the details of how the money will be allocated. I hope it will be enough to support the hospitality industry."

Mr Matheson backed Mr Critchlow's call for extra support to the city's retail industry, saying there were many independent shops which don't have the backing of major chains which needed help.