Government set out robust economic response to coronavirus

Rutland and Melton MP, Alicia Kearns, has welcomed the Government’s package of measures to support the economy, businesses and individuals in response to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Laying out the Government’s ‘timely and targeted’ response to the epidemic, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, announced the creation of a new £5 billion Initial COVID-19 Response Fund. This will; support the NHS in treating coronavirus patients, assist local councils in supporting vulnerable people and ensure funding is available for other public services. 

A further £40 million of new funding will also be made available to enable rapid research into COVID-19 and increase the capacity and capability of testing and surveillance.

The Chancellor also affirmed the Government’s commitment to provide a ‘safety net strong enough to fall back on’ for all those impacted by the outbreak. All eligible individuals unable to work due to self-isolation will be paid Statutory Sick Pay from day 1 of isolation as opposed to day 4.

Thanks to provisions made by the Government, self-employed people who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay can now make a claim for Universal Credit or an enhanced Employment and Support Allowance.  People will be able to claim Universal Credit and access payments upfront without the need to attend a jobcentre if self-isolating. Crucially, for the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those impacted by COVID-19.

The newly announced creation of a £500 million hardship fund to be distributed amongst local authorities will be used to directly support vulnerable people in their local area.

Rutland and Melton’s MP, Alicia Kearns, said:

“The Government’s Budget this afternoon shows their commitment and ability to guide this country through the outbreak of COVID-19.

“I welcome the holistic package of measures that will see Rutland and Melton’s families, communities and businesses supported throughout this uncertain time.

“This Budget means residents can look to the future with optimism, knowing well-funded assistance is close at hand.”

The Chancellor was clear that ‘the best way to support our people is to protect their jobs’ and laid out measures to remove the burden of paying Statutory Sick Pay from small to medium enterprises employing under 250 people. Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP as a result of COVID-19, and the Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism as soon as possible.

The Business Rate retail discount has also been increased to 100% for one year and has been expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors, with a £5000 discount for pubs introduced. £2.2 bullion of funding for Local Authorities will support small businesses that already pay little or no Business Rates due to the Small Business Rate Relief.