20 Mar

The Prime Minister held a press conference today to announce further measures the country will take in the fight against COVID-19. Mr. Johnson advised that from tonight (20 March) cafes, bars, restaurants, leisure centers, pubs and cinemas will close and not re open tomorrow, apart from takeaway services, in a combined effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases.

Mr. Johnson said that these measures, along with those advised previously, would mean "we will be able to save literally thousands of lives," if we take actions together and "make sacrifices". He also assured businesses: "We will stand by you" and that everything in the government’s power is being done.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak followed this announcement by unveiling plans to provide support, which comes in addition to his announcement earlier this week of Government-backed loans and grants to support businesses. Mr Sunak said these measures are designed to protect jobs. Some of the main points from the scheme are;

  • The government is setting up a job retention scheme which allows employers to obtain a grant to cover up to 80% of their employees’ wages, and up to £2500 per month for those employees retained but not working
  • A plan to defer the next quarter of VAT payments for firms, until the end of June, representing a £30bn injection into the economy
  • Self-assessment income payments would be deferred and business interruption loans would be interest fee for 12 months, rather than the six months previously announced
  • Universal Credit allowance increases £1,000 a year and the next tax self-assessments will be deferred until the start of 2021
  • The self-employed will get full Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay, and a further £1bn to cover 30% of house rental costs

Mr Sunak said there would be further announcements next week for measures that will ensure that medium-sized and larger businesses will be able to access the credit that they need.

As we see updated advice and guidance from the government on a regular basis, and the impact of COVID-19 continues to shift, we are here to help answer any questions you may have about how best to navigate these challenging times. Please feel free to call one of our team if you or your clients require any assistance.

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