Government pledges to “stand behind businesses small and large” amidst coronavirus outbreak

18th March 2020

In the daily televised Coronavirus briefing last night (Tuesday 17 March), the government promised to do “whatever it takes” to support a greater number of British businesses and individuals as the Coronavirus outbreak causes major economic disruption.

Downing Street

Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, stated the government would “stand behind businesses small and large”, pledging government-backed and guaranteed loans “to get through this”.

The loan package totalled £330bn, equivalent to 15% of GDP. Any business can access it “on attractive terms” in the biggest UK government rescue plan since the 2008 financial crisis.

Sunak stated he will be extending the government’s business interruption loan scheme to provide loans of £5m, up from £1.2m, with no interest due in the first six months. *

There will be small business grant funding of £10,000 available for all businesses in receipt of small business rate or rural rate relief. 

There will also be an additional cash grant of £25,000 for businesses operating in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors that operate from smaller premises (rateable value between £15,000 to £51,000).

The Chancellor also confirmed leisure firms such as pubs and clubs which hold an insurance policy covering pandemics would be able to make claims under their policy. 

A statutory sick pay (SSP) relief package has been announced for SMEs, this refund will cover up to two weeks SSP per eligible employee.

The Chancellor added that he will fast track new forms of employment support and will be working with unions.

Off-payroll working rules (IR35) which were due to be implemented during 2020 have been delayed, meaning companies will not be subject to the new rules until April 2021. 

In terms of support for individuals, Sunak said lenders will provide a three-month mortgage holiday for those individuals experiencing issues with their finances as a result of Covid-19.

The Chancellor says he will use the forthcoming Coronavirus bill, which is expected to be presented to Parliament later this week, to offer “whatever further financial support is necessary”.

Business rates relief 

The business rates holiday, which last week was to be applied to firms with a rateable value of up to £51,000, will now be applied to all businesses operating in retail, hospitality or leisure regardless of rateable value.

Robert Chote, Chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) told a treasury committee meeting “This is not the time to be squeamish about one-off additions to public sector debt. It’s more like a wartime situation – that this is money well spent.”

At present, we still await guidance regarding grant funding from local authorities and will communicate updates and provide advice on this as it happens, within the next few days.

If you are concerned about your business and would like more advice upon obtaining support please do not hesitate to contact us on info@hboltd.co.uk or call 01926 422 292

*The Coronavirus Business Interruption scheme will be launched week commencing 23 March 2020.