In the Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out a number of new measures to make sure the country is able to face this threat.
The £12 billion package includes:
To support public services:
- A £5 billion Coronavirus Response fund for
- The NHS to treat Coronavirus patients, including maintaining staffing levels.
- Local Authority actions to support social care services and vulnerable people.
- Ensuring funding is available to other public services so that they are prepared and protected.
- £40 million of new funding for the National Institute for Health Research and the Department for Health to enable further rapid research into Coronavirus - this follows the £91 million that the government has already pledged to the international response.
To support people affected by Coronavirus:
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be available for anyone diagnosed with Coronavirus, or who is unable to work became they are self-isolating from day 1, instead of day 4 for affected individuals. Those not eligible for SSP, or those earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, can make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance more easily, which will be paid from day 1.
- People will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a Job Centre if they are advised to self-isolate.
- For the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those with Coronavirus, or those self-isolating, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support.
- People who are advised to self-isolate will soon be able to a sick note by contacting NHS 111, rather than visiting a doctor when employers require evidence.
To support businesses:
- The government will legislate to allow small and medium-sized businesses (SME's) to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to Coronavirus for up to two weeks.
- The government will increase the Business Rates retail discount to 100% for one year, and expand it to the leisure and hospitality sectors, and increase the planned discount for pubs to £5,000.
- Taken together with existing small business rate relief (which provides full relief for businesses using a single property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less), an estimated 900,000 properties, or 45% of all properties in England, will receive 100% business rates relief in 2020/21.
- The government will provide an additional £2.2 billion funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no Business Rates, because of Small Business Rate Relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £3,000 to around 700,000 businesses who currently receive Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their business costs.
- A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank will launch in weeks to support businesses access bank lending and overdrafts, supporting loans of up to £1.2m in value.
- All businesses and the self-employed in financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through the HMRC's Time To Pay service. We all have to play our part in tackling this virus and slowing the spread. As with any new illness, information about the virus spreads is still emerging, but symptoms of Coronavirus include a cough, high temperature and shortness of breath.
On 16th March 2020, the government and the BBC also announced that changes to the Licence Fee for over-75's has been delayed until August. Further information can be found here.