The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, has announced a combination of measures designed to protect jobs and incomes.
The key announcements are:
- The Government is setting up a new Coronavirus Job Retention scheme – any employer in the county will be eligible for the scheme. Employers can contact HMRC to cover most of the wages of people who are kept on payroll. Grants will cover up to 80% of the salary up to £2,500 a month. Employers will be able to top up employees’ wages.
- The scheme will be back dated to 1 March 2020 and will be open for an initial three months. It may be extended as necessary. The Chancellor the expects the first grants to be paid within weeks.
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will now be interest free for 12 months not 6 months as was previously announced. The loans will be available from Monday 23 March 2020.
- The Chancellor is deferring the next quarter of VAT payments meaning no business will pay VAT between now and the end of June. Businesses will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.
- Increasing Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit for the next 12 months by £1,000 a year.
- Suspending the minimum income floor so that self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.
- The next self-assessment payments for self-employed will be deferred until January 2021.
- Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents.
In a joint press conference, the Prime Minister also announced that he is now ordering cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars to close ‘tonight as soon as they can’ and not to open tomorrow. The same restrictions apply to night clubs, theatres, gyms and cinemas.