Late yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 17/03/2020) saw our prime minister Boris give his second address to the nation live on TV. The focus was on financial measures to support the economy, including supporting individuals, families and businesses.
Less than one week since the budget, the government reiterated its message that it stands behind businesses and will do whatever it takes to support businesses and individuals to keep them afloat during these troubled times, pledging £330bn in funding.
With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, and with the impact of Government advice issued on Monday already being felt within the economy, including temporary layoffs and some well-known high street retailers filing for administration, the Government acknowledge that they must respond with a matter of urgency.
Within the rescue package available to businesses Rishi Sunak pledged that from Monday of next week any business that needs access to cash would be able to apply for a government backed loan under attractive terms.
SME’s will be able to apply for a loan of up to £5m through the new business interruption loan scheme with no interest payable for the first six months.
Businesses within retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, irrespective of their ratable value will pay no business rates this year. Within these sectors, businesses with a ratable value of less than £51k will also be able to apply for an additional cash grant of up to £25k per business.
To support cash flow, small businesses can apply for a grant of up to £10k.
For individuals in financial difficulty due to the coronavirus, mortgage lenders will be offering a three month payment holiday. Following this announcement there has been an outcry that it should also include a payment holiday for people in the rental market.
In addition, SSP will be paid from day 1 of any sickness absence relating to coronavirus. This will be formally approved within the bill being passed by parliament on Thursday of this week.
The chancellor outlined he is currently in talks with trade unions and business groups and will do everything he can to keep people healthy and financially secure. It is expected that further announcements will be made in the coming days outlining the government’s next steps.