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The Chancellor of the Exchequer recently announced £7 billion of extraordinary measures to help support businesses and individuals who will be affected by the covid-19 coronavirus outbreak in his first Budget. 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.
Measures aimed at small and medium businesses like 100% relief on business rates and refunding the statutory sick pay bill for up to 14 days will help businesses address cash flow problems they are likely to encounter in the coming months.
Mr Sunak confirmed that SSP will be available “to all those advised to self-isolate even if they haven’t yet presented with symptoms”, adding that people would soon be able to obtain a sick note by contacting 111 rather than having to go to the doctors. He acknowledged that not everyone is eligible for SSP, for example the self-employed or people earning below the lower earnings limit of £118 per week. The rate of statutory sick pay is proposed to increase from £94.25 to £95.85 on 6 April.
The Chancellor said the government will make it quicker and easier for them to access benefits. Those on contributory employment and support allowance (ESA) will be able to claim from day one instead of day eight. The government is also temporarily removing the minimum income floor in universal credit and relaxing the requirement for anyone to physically attend a jobcentre.
Mr Sunak also confirmed he was creating a £500 million fund for local authorities to help them support vulnerable people in their area and that HMRC will “scale up” the Time To Pay service, which enables tax owed to be paid in instalments, allowing businesses and the self-employed to defer tax payments over an agreed period of time.
Mr Sunak also announced a new temporary “Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme”. Banks will offer loans of up to £1.2 million to support SMEs. The government will offer a generous guarantee on those loans covering up to 80% of losses with no fees so that banks “can lend with confidence”.
This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. Please contact our Employment Team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.