Measures to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus
The Chancellor began his speech by addressing the economic impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. As well as promising ‘whatever the NHS needs’ to deal with it, he announced a range of measures, estimated to cost in total £12 billion, to help individuals and businesses to cope with the financial consequences. These include the following:
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to be paid from the first day of absence, not the fourth, where people have the virus or have to self-isolate, or care for such people.
- Support through Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance for self-employed people and others not entitled to SSP.
- Full funding of the cost of two weeks’ SSP for small and medium-sized employers whose workers have claimed SSP as a result of Covid-19.
- Extension of business rates reliefs: retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with rateable values up to £51,000 will be eligible for 100% relief in 2020/21, and a £5,000 discount (up from £1,000) for pubs with a rateable value below £100,000.
- Small businesses already eligible for 100% business rates relief will receive a grant of £3,000 to help with business costs.
- Businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress will be able to negotiate ‘time to pay’ arrangements with HMRC without incurring late payment penalties.