Minister admits businesses 'still hard-pressed' as he is grilled over lack of support

7 January 2022, 09:21 | Updated: 7 January 2022, 09:26

By Sophie Barnett

Minister Paul Scully has admitted businesses are "still hard-pressed" as he was challenged by Nick Ferrari on the lack of coronavirus support for certain sectors.

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The business minister told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast it is a "difficult balance" to determine which sectors will receive support from the government as Covid continues to batter businesses.

Mr Sully told Nick the money is available for businesses in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation industries that have been "hardest hit".

"We know they were really hard-pressed over Christmas with people cancelling events, so we kept the rates of the grants at the same level as when they were mandated to close, recognising the fact they are still hard-pressed," he explained.

Nick quizzed the minister, asking whether other sectors, such as gyms, have been excluded.

Read more: Millions set to be pulled into higher tax bands in 'stealth tax raid'

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"Why leave travel behind, the leisure industry, the wedding industry?"

Mr Sully said the support is for those who have had a "particularly chilling effect in the lead-up to Christmas".

"It's a difficult balance," he admitted.

"The wedding industry has people booking weeks and months ahead.

"In the hospitality industry there was a particularly chilling effect as they make a large amount of their profits in December, which gets them through the quieter months of January and February so it's a recognition of that effect on their businesses, which is why we are stepping up support."

Business minister Paul Scully spoke to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC.
Business minister Paul Scully spoke to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC. Picture: Alamy

He said he is hopeful gyms can "pick it up" in January, whereas hospitality tends to be quiet.

He added that domestic customers are "absolutely top priority" for the government when it comes to tackling the cost of rising energy bills, but also small businesses who have been affected.

His comments come as millions are set to be plunged into higher tax bands in what is being called a "stealth tax raid".

Over one million more people will pay the higher tax rate by 2026, according to new research.

The Government's decision to freeze the personal tax allowance and higher rate tax threshold at a time of wage and price inflation will lead to around 1.2 million additional workers seeing their earnings going over the 40 per cent tax threshold, according to analysis by the House of Commons Library.

Almost 1.5 million more people will be brought into paying the basic level of income tax.

The Liberal Democrats, who commissioned the research, called on the Government to drop its "stealth tax raid" that will "clobber families who are already feeling the pinch."

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