Coronavirus: £3m funding for Leicester businesses

image copyrightPA Media
image captionLeicester's local lockdown was announced on 29 June

Businesses in Leicestershire will get £3m of government funding to help with the financial impact of the local lockdown.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the extra money in a letter to Harborough MP Neil O'Brien.

Leicester will get £2.6m, while Oadby and Wigston will share the remaining £400,000.

An announcement on whether the area's local lockdown will be lifted or extended is expected on Thursday.

Leicester and some surrounding areas were returned lockdown on 29 June after a spike in Covid-19 cases, though some restrictions were lifted on 24 July.

In the latest figures released on Wednesday, Leicester recorded 48 cases of coronavirus over a 24-hour period, up from just eight the day before, while Oadby and Wigston recorded no new cases for the second day running.

Mr O'Brien - a Conservative MP who has criticised the government for a lack of clarity on the local lockdown - told BBC Radio Leicester "positive news" on falling numbers of new cases backed calls to lift restrictions.

"We've been shut for four weeks more than the rest of the country has and that's been difficult for businesses," he said.

"A lot of them were preparing to reopen just at the point our local lockdown kicked in.

"It's time to bring particularly Oadby and Wigston out of lockdown, because the virus numbers have improved an awful lot.

"Even though we're testing a lot, the virus numbers are coming right down, so I think it's time to end it."

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour MP for Leicester South, said the funding "will go some way to supporting businesses", but added Leicester City Council is "rightly lobbying for more".

Amanda Falls, who employs about 30 people at salons in Leicester and Oadby, said the funds would be "a massive help", especially as businesses look towards the end of the furlough scheme.

"Bank balances are really quite low now and it's a scary situation to be in," she said.

Helen Shakiba said she is considering letting go all staff at her events business in Leicester, and called for the lockdown to be lifted.

She said: "I think everybody knows now that businesses are massively suffering."

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