Today, the Chancellor has set out our economic response so we bring stability and security. The Government has put forward a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, individuals and businesses through the economic disruption caused by coronavirus (COVID-19).
Below you can find key pointers from today's budget on how the Government plans to help individuals and businesses battle coronavirus. More information will be released in the next few days from official sources but please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office if you have any issues with the relevant Government departments.
Supporting our public services:
- We will provide any extra resources needed by the NHS and other public services to tackle the virus. We have created a new £5 billion Initial COVID-19 Response fund so the NHS can treat Coronavirus patients; councils can support vulnerable people; and ensure funding is available for other public services.
- £40 million of new funding to enable further rapid research into COVID-19 and increase the capacity and capability of testing and surveillance.
- A contribution of up to £150 million to the International Monetary Fund’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, to help the effort to stop further transmission, including into the UK.
Supporting people affected:
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 who are unable to work because they are self-isolating. This is in addition to the change announced by the Prime Minister that SSP will be payable from day 1 instead of day 4 for affected individuals.
- People who are advised to self-isolate will now soon be able to obtain an alternative to the fit note to cover this by contacting NHS 111, rather than visiting a doctor. This can be used by employees where their employers require evidence. Further details will be confirmed shortly.
- Those who are not eligible for SSP, can now make a claim for Universal Credit or an enhanced Employment and Support Allowance:
- For the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor, will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating according to government advice.
- People will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate.
- Employment and Support Allowance, up to a maximum of £111.65pw, will be payable for eligible people affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating from Day 1 of sickness, rather than Day 8.
- £500m more funding so Local Authorities can support economically vulnerable people and households. We expect most of this funding to be used to provide more council tax relief, either through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes, or through complementary reliefs. MHCLG will set out more detail on this funding, including allocations, shortly.
Supporting businesses experiencing increases in costs or financial disruptions:
- We will bring forward legislation to allow SMEs and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. This refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been ill because of COVID-19; Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible; Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP as a result of COVID-19. We will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible
- We will increase the Business Rates retail discount to 100% for one year and expand it to the leisure and hospitality sectors, and the introduction of a £5,000 rates discount for pubs. Taken together with existing Small Business Rates Relief an estimated 900,000 properties, or 45% of all properties in England, will receive 100% business rates relief in 2020/21. Guidance for local authorities on the application of the expanded retail discount will be published by MHCLG on 20 March.
- We will provide an additional £2.2 billion funding for Local Authorities to support small businesses that pay little or no Business Rates because of Small Business Rate Relief.
- A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch on 1 April to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.
- Businesses and self-employed people in financial distress may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. Arrangements are agreed case-by-case. Businesses can contact HMRC’s new dedicated COVID-19 helpline from 11 March 2020 for advice.