This week on March 11 the chancellor announced the budget 2020, and among other things one of the most important announcement was the government’s respond to the businesses and employees directly affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The measures include:
The Budget announces measures to support people who are unable to work because of COVID-19.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will temporarily allow to be paid from the first day of sickness absence, rather than the fourth day, for people who have COVID-19 or have to self‑isolate. The government will also temporarily extend SSP to cover:
Medical Evidence for SSP – it is been advised that employers should use their discretion not to require a GP fit note for COVID-19 related absences. The NHS will put in place a temporary alternative to the fit note in the coming weeks which can be used for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak. This will enable people who are advised to self-isolate to obtain a notification by calling NHS111 which they can use as evidence for absence from work, where necessary. (the system is not yet fully operational but government advises it will be ready in the coming weeks, please follow us for more updates in the coming days)
Those ineligible for SSP – Self-employed and employees below the Lower Earnings Limit are not entitled to SSP. They will get financial support by using the, ‘new style’ Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit.
The government says that it recognises that some businesses may experience increased costs or disruptions to their cash flow as a result of COVID-19 and it is therefore providing support to businesses during this temporary period of COVID-19.
Statutory Sick Pay –Small, medium-sized businesses and employers will be refunded eligible SSP relating to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme are as follows:
Business Rates Reliefs – To support small businesses affected by COVID-19 the government is increasing the Business Rates retail discount 100% for 2020-21. The relief will also be expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors. The government has also announced in increase to a £5,000 Business Rates discount for pubs with a rateable value below £100,000 in England for one year from 1 April 2020.
Small business grant funding –Small businesses that pay little or no business rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) or the Rural Rate Relief will be eligible for £3,000 to meet their ongoing business costs. For a property with a rateable value of £12,000, this is one quarter of their rateable value, or comparable to 3 months of rent. It is not yet clear how businesses will access the grants.
Time to Pay
A new, temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, to support businesses to access bank lending (loans of up to £1.2 million) and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan and will not charge the businesses or banks for this guarantee.
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