Chancellor announces a range of measures to support businesses during the COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak

12 March 2020

In his Spring Statement, Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a range of measures to support businesses and individuals effected by the outbreak of COVID-19 Coronavirus.

For businesses, the Government will bring forward legislation to allow SME’s to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. This will only be available to employers with fewer than 250 staff, who are claiming up to 2 weeks payments due to a sickness period caused by COVID-19.

The Government has also announced an extension of the Business Rates Retail Discount to include the leisure and hospitality sectors. Businesses in the relevant sectors who occupy a property with a Rateable Value of £50,000 or less will be entitled to a 100% discount on their Business Rates in 2020/21. An updated set of Rates Bills will be sent to businesses as soon as possible. More information will be available on Birmingham City Council’s Business Rates webpage as soon as possible.

In addition to the above measures, a £2.2bn fund to support Small Businesses who are entitled to Small Business Rates Relief will be made available to Local Authorities. Grants of up to £3,000 will be available. A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan will also be launching in a matter of weeks to support businesses to access lending and overdrafts. Loans of up to £1.2m will be made available.

Support may also be available on a case-by-case basis to businesses who need assistance with their tax liabilities. Businesses will need to contact HMRC on 0800 0159 559 for more details.

Unconnected to COVID-19, the Government has also announced a review of the Business Rates system. This review is due to report back to Government in the Autumn. You can find out more here.

For individuals, SSP will now be available to those diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who are Self-Isolating in line with Government Advice. This will be payable from day one, as opposed to day four of the relevant sickness period. An alternative to the fit note is also being prepared. For those not eligible for SSP, the rules for claiming Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance have also been relaxed. A £500m Hardship Fund will also be available for the most economically vulnerable.

An overview of all of the COVID-19 measures can be found here.