Less than a week after Rishi Sunak’s first Budget as Chancellor, the UK government have announced a further raft of economic measures to help keep UK business afloat. In a sizeable top-up to their coronavirus rescue package, the Treasury are making £330bn of government-backed loans and £20bn of cash available, offering crisis-hit firms a much-needed lifeline.
The new and updated support measures for British business include:
- Refunds of 14 days’ worth of Statutory Sick Pay per employee, for businesses with up to 250 employees – that’s up to a total of £2bn for two million businesses
- An increase in the maximum loan amount businesses can borrow from the new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) – from £1.2m to £5m. Administered by the British Business Bank, the new scheme will also fund the first six months of loan interest for applicants
- Grants of £10,000 for the smallest businesses – those who are eligible for small business rate or rural rate relief
- Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020-2021 tax year
- Grants of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses which operate from smaller premises (with a rateable value of £15,000-£51,000)
- Help for larger firms similar to Quantitative Easing – more details to follow
And in a move which has delighted UK contractors, the government announced its intention to delay the contentious IR35 legislation update for a year until April 2021. Mortgage lenders will also offer a three-month holiday to individuals who face difficulty paying their mortgage.
In a live interview for Talk Radio, Harper James CEO and founder Toby Harper had this to say about the Chancellor’s updated plans: ‘It’s right to do all we can to help businesses keep their lights on. What businesses need more than anything now is liquidity: money in the bank.’
But Toby also acknowledged that the help on offer raised questions: ‘While the extra funding is very welcome in the business community, the question I am hearing is how quickly can firms access these grants and loans? We support over 1000 firms across the UK and they will be eager to know the process behind applying for this support the Treasury’s promising them.’