Coronavirus Update from Priti Patel MP
Support for Businesses, Jobs and Incomes
The Government has introduced new measures this week to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. I know that the whole country understands the importance of preventing the spread of this disease and the decisions taken to restrict movement and close businesses have not been easy ones to make. As a strong supporter of freedom, enterprise and opportunity it saddens me to see businesses close their doors, schools shut and families staying in their homes. But to save lives and protect the NHS these decisions are right and necessary.
We all have a responsibility to do what we can to prevent coronavirus from spreading and even in these incredibly challenging and difficult times the business community in Essex is coming together. The numbers of businesses offering to help the national effort, support critical public services and help local communities has been incredible. Other businesses are adapting their ways of working so more employees can work from home and to support the ‘social distancing’ measures.
But I know that many businesses face the prospect of uncertainty and hardship in the weeks ahead. Some businesses cannot continue to function as usual or adapt. I am in contact with individual businesses as well as business groups, like the Essex Chambers of Commerce, to listen to the comments, concerns and suggestions that have come forward and make representations to my colleagues in Government.
That is why the Government has launched an unprecedented package of measures to help support businesses, jobs and incomes. Doing what it takes to support the economy is a priority for the Government and the measures to back our businesses are wide-ranging.
For the first time in history the Government is directly supporting the salaries of workers through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This will provide employers with a grant of up to 80% of the salaries of ‘furloughed workers’ to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working on setting this system up as soon as possible. This will help businesses to keep staff on and incomes to be paid.
Changes to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) are also being brought in to help business meet the costs of supporting employers who are not able to work because of COVID-19, which includes enabling small and medium sized businesses and employers to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absence.
New packages of support have been put in place to help firms with their cashflow. Small and medium sized enterprises can access support from their banks through the temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Larger firms will have access to the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility through the Bank of England.
VAT payments are being deferred for three months from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 and for those who are self-employed Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. For firms and individuals in temporary financial distress and have outstanding tax liabilities, HMRC’s Time to Pay service may be able to assist, and they have a dedicated COVID-19 helpline: 0800 0159 559.
Businesses are also being supported with help with business rates. All retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England will benefit from a twelve-month business rates holiday. Grant funding of £25,000 is also being provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. Small business grant funding of £10,000 is being provided to all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief. Local authorities have been given guidance on administering these schemes and are working to reissue business rates bills and get grants to businesses as soon as possible in early April.
Full details of these and other measures can be found online at the Government’s dedicated coronavirus support for business webpage. The webpage is updated frequently as more guidance on the measures is published, so please do check regularly for the latest news:
The measures put in place are being kept under review and the Government is also looking at introducing more support for those who are self-employed.
General advice and information on the coronavirus outbreak can be found online at: www.gov.uk/coronavirus
My office continues to be open to support residents and businesses. If you have any enquiries or require help and assistance, please send an email to: WithamMP@parliament.uk
I wish everyone well during these difficult and challenging times.
The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
Member of Parliament for Witham