Updated 15th March 2020, 18:40. For the latest medical advice, visit NHS.uk/Coronavirus.
In the Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out a number of new measures to make sure the country is able to face this threat.
I will try and detail them: he has made clear that our NHS will have the resources it needs, and that we will, do what we can to support people and local businesses.
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 obtain 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 £1.2 million 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.