On 17 March 2020, the Chancellor announced the latest package of measures to support businesses.
At the Budget last week, the Chancellor set out the first stage of our response to tackle Coronavirus with a £30 billion package of support for people and businesses. But we promised to do whatever it takes to support our economy through this crisis – and we will do whatever it takes.
So, we have now announced an unprecedented package of government-backed loans and guarantees to support business.
We will make available an initial £330 billion of guarantees – equivalent to 15 per cent of our GDP – so any businesses who needs access to cash to pay their rent, the salaries of employees, pay suppliers or purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan. We will also provide tax cuts for British businesses worth nearly £20 billion.
The measures announced today provide a comprehensive, coordinated and coherent response to what is a serious and evolving economic situation. We have never faced an economic fight like this one but we are well prepared. We will do whatever it takes and we will get through this. We are doing this by:
Standing behind businesses small and large – providing a £330 billion package of loans and guarantees – that’s worth 15 per cent of our GDP. And if demand is greater than the initial £330 billion we are making available today, we will go further and provide as much capacity as required. That means any good business in financial difficulty who needs access to cash to pay their rent, the salaries of their employees, pay suppliers, or purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan, on attractive terms.
We will support liquidity amongst large companies, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England. We will support lending to small and medium-sized businesses by extending the Business Interruption Loan Scheme announced in the Budget. This means that, rather than providing loans of £1.2 million, it will provide loans of up to £5 million, with no interest for the first six months.
Both of these schemes will be up and running by the start of next week – and the Chancellor is also taking a new legal power in the Covid Bill to offer whatever further financial support is necessary .
Helping all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors – meaning that none of these companies will have to pay business rates. Last week, we said that any business in this sector with a rateable value of less than £51,000 can have a 100 per cent discount on their business rates. Today, we are going further – so all businesses in this sector, irrespective of their rateable value, are exempt from business rates for 12 months – that’s every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant, and any other business in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors. In addition, we will provide small businesses in these sectors with an additional grant scheme of up to £25,000. Any business with a rateable value of less than £51,000 can now get access to a government grant. Increasing grants for the smallest businesses from £3,000 to £5,000. In the Budget last week, we announced that we would be providing £3,000 grants to the 700,000 of our smallest businesses. To support their cash flow, today we are increasing those grants to £10,000.
Taken together, the Chancellor is today announcing tax cuts and grants for British businesses worth more than £20 billion. This is in addition to the measures we announced in the Budget last week to support businesses: Supporting small and medium-sized businesses to cope with the extra costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) by refunding eligible SSP costs.
The criteria for eligible businesses are:
The refund will be limited to two weeks per employee who has claimed SSP as a result of Covid19.
Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible
Employers should keep records but should not require employees to provide a doctor’s note.
The eligible period will commence from the day on which regulations extending SSP come into force.
We will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. Businesses and self-employed people may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time to Pay service. Arrangements are agreed case-by-case. Businesses can contact HMRC’s new dedicated COVID-19 helpline from 11 March 2020 for advice.