Summary of Announcements in the Chancellor's Speech

Today the Chancellor has 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.

The Chancellor has also announced tax cuts for British businesses to protect jobs worth nearly £20 billion and, following discussions with the mortgage industry, we are introducing a three month mortgage holiday for those in difficulty due to coronavirus – so that people will not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage. 

We will give every British citizen the tools they need to get through this. We will support jobs, we will support incomes, we will support businesses, and we will help people to protect their loved ones. 

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.  

SUPPORTING BUSINESSES:

We will stand behind businesses small and large as the lender of last resort – 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 .

We will help 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.

We will increase 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:

We will support 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 Covid-19.
  • 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. 

SUPPORTING PEOPLE AFFECTED:

For those in difficulty due to coronavirus, we are introducing a three month mortgage holiday – so that people will not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage while they get back on their feet. And in the coming days, we will go much further to support people’s financial security. We will work with trade unions and businesses to develop new forms of employment support to help protect people’s jobs and incomes through this period.

This is in addition to the measures we announced in the Budget last week to support individuals, worth £1 billion:

We will support those who are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay by increasing the eligibility criteria – and a doctor’s note can be obtained via NHS 111. We have already set out that SSP will be available from day one for people who have COVID-19. But the Budget sets out that this will now cover those who are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate as well as for people within the same household who display symptoms. Those who are advised to self-isolate will able to obtain a doctor’s note via NHS 111 as medical evidence for SSP.

We will support those who are ineligible for Statutory Sick Pay – giving people quicker and easier access to benefits. For those who aren’t eligible for SSP – the self-employed and employees below the Lower Earnings Limit – the best system of support is the welfare system. We will:

  • Make it payable directly to people affected or self-isolating from the first day rather than eighth.   
  • Ensure people will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advanced payments without the current requirement to attend a job centre.  
  • Relax the requirement of the minimum income floor in Universal Credit for those directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating according to advice.  

We are providing a £500 million Hardship Fund so Local Authorities can support economically vulnerable people and households in their local area. We expect most of this funding to be used to provide more council tax relief.

Q: What are you doing for the NHS?
We are making sure the NHS is getting all the support it needs to continue its swift response. The Budget announced a £5 billion Covid-19 Response Fund, and this funding is available now to ensure the NHS and other public services have the resources they need.

Q: Will you give compensation to the companies affected by the updated government advice around social distancing?
The action we are taking on social distancing is essential for protecting the public. We understand the impact this may have on businesses, so today we have announced a major new package of loans and guarantees. 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.