HAMPSHIRE Chamber has sought additional support from the government as the UK entered third lockdown due to a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

Chamber said businesses would be affected if schools remain closed as parents would not be able to take full part in the workforce.

Ross Mcnally, Hampshire Chamber Chief Executive and Executive Chairman, said: “Most businesses will recognise that tougher measures are needed given the surge of infections we are seeing across the country.

“However, the return to a stay-at-home instruction and virtual-only school tuition means that - as with the March 2020 lockdown - parents with children will find it more difficult to play their full part in the workforce.

“The government must provide additional support as a matter of priority for businesses already reeling from the economic impact of the pandemic so they can continue to employ their staff and trade while these new restrictions are in place.

“Thousands of Chamber members are already experiencing huge pressures and now have to brace themselves for yet more pain.

“Up to now, ministers have provided considerable sums, through furlough payments, loans and grants, to help keep businesses afloat and jobs protected. These precious lifelines must continue as part of a flexible business support approach as we await the vaccine rollout, mass testing, and an end to this wretched crisis.

“At Hampshire Chamber, we will continue to do all we can to support our members through the various information, training and signposting services we provide.”

Meanwhile, chancellor of exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced £4.5 billion in new lockdown grants to support businesses and protect jobs. This includes a one-off grant worth up to £9,000 to businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

He also said £594 million discretionary fund has also been made available to support other impacted businesses. This comes in addition to £1.1 billion further discretionary grant funding for local authorities, local restriction support grants worth up to £3,000 a month and extension of furlough scheme.