11 Mar

In the Budget address on 11th March 2020, Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced £7 billion of extraordinary measures to support the economy through the Coronavirus crisis.

The cost of statutory sick pay (SSP) for Coronavirus-related absence will be covered for businesses with fewer than 250 employees, providing over £2 billion for up to two million businesses. Rishi Sunak said: “The best way to support people is to protect their jobs – and we do that by supporting our businesses.”

The following key measures were announced:

  • The cost of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for Coronavirus-related absence of up to 14 days will be refunded by the government. 
  • SSP will be available “to all those advised to self-isolate even if they haven’t yet presented with symptoms”. This will apply from day one of sickness.
  • Employees will be able to obtain a sick note from the NHS non-emergency service (111), which they can use as evidence for absence from work. This initiative is intended to take pressure off local GPs.

The self-employed and those working in the gig economy are not eligible for SSP and so the government has made it quicker and easier to access benefits.

Additional financial support is being made available under a new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme with banks offering loans of up to £1.2m to support SMEs.

The ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’ (CBILS) will temporarily replace the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG), becoming available over the coming weeks- for more infomation see the British Business Bank website.

A new HMRC helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial difficulties with and outstanding tax liabilities. Those concerned about their ability to pay tax due to the Coronavirus can contact HMRC’s helpline on 0800 0159 559.

Further measures announced in the Budget to help protect businesses included:

  • Abolishing business rates for shops, cinemas, restaurants and music venues with a rateable value of less than £51,000
  • Extending this 100% retail discount to others in the leisure and hospitality sector: museums, art galleries and theatres, caravan parks and gyms, small hotels and B&Bs, sports clubs, nightclubs, clubhouses and guest houses.
  • For small businesses currently eligible for the small business rate relief, there will be a £3,000 cash grant per business, representing a £2 billion cash injection to 700,000 small businesses.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for employees, employers and businesses- Information on healthcare advice for employers and support for businesses. Gov.uk

By the publications team at: Contracts-Direct.com

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