Labour has described the government’s decision to force local authorities to hand back £1.3bn in unspent emergency coronavirus business grants as a “smash and grab raid on business support”.
The party has today argued that “clawing back” the money, which includes £340m for areas still currently under local Covid restrictions, puts England at risk of “waves of redundancies” and “shuttered high streets”.
Labour is calling on the Conservatives to instead redeploy the unspent funding as part of a proposed hospitality and high street fightback fund to help save jobs and businesses in the hardest-hit sectors.
Shadow business minister Lucy Powell said: “Businesses are in a fight for survival. The Business Secretary must stand up to the Treasury and demand they reverse this smash and grab raid on business support or risk the decimation of our high streets.
“It makes zero sense to remove economic support while public health restrictions are tightening. It’s now clear that some places and some businesses are going to be acutely hard hit over a longer period than was first thought.