On Tuesday night, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a further package of support for businesses affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.
The UK Government has put up more than £300 billion to back British business, there is to be a new scheme operated by the Bank of England, as well as the launch of a new business interruption loan scheme operated by the British Business Bank. These measures amount to around 15 per cent of our GDP and will be up, running, and ready to stand behind business by 23rd March.
Furthermore, businesses with fewer than 250 employees will now be able to recoup the cost of 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee from the government.
The Chancellor also announced measures to provide further support in terms of rates relief and grants to businesses in England and Wales, providing cash to the Scottish Government to do the same. Given that this was in addition to the actions set out in the budget, this means substantially more money for Scotland to do likewise.
The Scottish Government has committed to mirroring UK Government action in England which means that the following measures will be available during the 2020-21 financial year:
- A 100 per cent rates relief for all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors from 1st April 2020.
- A fund to provide grants of up to £10,000 for small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19.
- A fund to provide grants of up to £25,000 for businesses in the hospitality sector with a rateable value of between £18,000 and £51,000.
- 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020.
- A fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1 April 2020.
The Chancellor is working urgently with business, unions and other groups to prepare a further package of support for working people, as well as support for those who are privately renting. I will, therefore, update you on these developments in due course.
Advice on both Scottish and UK Government support can be found on Scottish Government’s new business helpline number: 0300 303 0660. The helpline should be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team.
The Scottish Conservatives are committed to helping people and businesses through the difficult period ahead, and we will continue to urge both of Scotland’s governments to do all they can in that regard.