Coronavirus: what support is available for both businesses and individuals?

Coronavirus: what support is available for both businesses and individuals?

With the recent outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, we’re updating our readers with advice and guidance relating to the pandemic. This article, produced by the Electrical Contractors Association, outlines the support available for businesses, as set out by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Support for businesses

The Chancellor announced measures, particularly focused on small and medium-sized businesses, to help cushion the financial impact of coronavirus. It says:

• Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing SSP for anyone off work for up to two weeks because of the virus (this includes sickness, selfisolation and caring for those with symptoms who are self-isolating), will be refunded in full by the government*. Businesses should keep records, but employees do not require GP ‘sick notes’.
• HMRC – there will be an extension of the Time to Pay programme whereby businesses and the self-employed can agree a deferment of tax payments over a period of time. The HMRC helpline is 0800 0159 559.
• There will be a £1 billion temporary coronavirus business interruption loan scheme, where banks will be able to offer loans of up to £1.2m per SME business. The government says it will provide an 80% guarantee of these loans with no fees.
• Around 700,000 organisations who receive the small business rate relief or rural rates relief will be eligible for a £3,000 stimulus payment to offset other tax changes. This £2.2 billion policy is being funded by the Government but provided by local authorities.

*date to be announced for implementation of the entitlement to SSP from day one or the entitlement to SSP rebate – legislation allowing for this has not yet been introduced.

Support for individuals

If people become ill or can’t work (through self-isolation) the government will help support them through a number of measures:

• Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be available from day one rather than day four. It will be available for all those who are advised to self-isolate even if they have not presented with any symptoms. It’s also planned that soon you’ll be able to get a fit note from NHS 111, rather than having to visit a GP’s surgery in person (which is advised against if you suspect you are suffering from the virus).
• For the self-employed or workers who do not qualify for SSP, the government says it will make it ‘quicker and easier to access benefits. For instance, Universal Credit (the Government’s comprehensive benefits package) can now be claimed without going to a job centre, if the individual is directed affected by coronavirus or is self-isolating.

For more details on the Government’s response to Coronavirus, click here.

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