- Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a massive package of support to help employers and employees survive the coronavirus shutdown.
Following the Prime Minister's announcement that pubs, bars, cafes and other public venues must shut from midnight on Friday, Mr Sunak announced billions of pounds would be used to prevent businesses going under, and to prop up salaries of workers who have suddenly become unable to work.
Here's some of the key commitments from Friday.
For salaried workers - the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- Any employer in the UK eligible via HMRC
- Government grants will cover 80 percent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month.
- This is intended to cover workers whom their employer is unable to pay, or are unable to work due to the coronavirus outbreak.
- They will become 'furloughed' and should not be working while under the scheme.
- Scheme will cover wages lost backdated to March 1, and applications will open before the end of April.
- Scheme will last until June 1, with potential to be extended.
- Mr Sunak said there were unlimited funds available for this scheme.
For freelancers and the self-employed
- Mr Sunak didn't announce any specific plan to compensate freelancers and the self-employed.
- He advised the self-employed affected by coronavirus to apply for the Universal Credit scheme, which has altered requirements and conditions.
- The self-employed will not have to make any further payments on their self-assessment tax return until 2021.
- Mr Sunak said the minimum income floor for Universal Credit is to be suspended, meaning all those who are self-employed can access Universal Credit at the rate equivalent to statutory sick pay for employees - currently £94.25 a week.
Universal Credit and tax credit boost
- The standard Universal Credit allowance and the Working Tax Credit basic allowance are both being increased by £1,000 a year.
- New claimants won't need to prove 'gainful self-employment' if they are self employed and applying for Universal Credit.
- Claimants who have Covid-19 or are self-isolating can receive advance payment upfront without having to go to a jobcentre.
- “Together these measures will benefit over four million of our most vulnerable households,” Mr Sunak said, but warned the UK is already seeing job losses.
Small and medium businesses - the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- An interest-free loan scheme announced last week has been extended from six months to 12 months.
- Scheme starts Monday March 23.
- The next quarter of VAT payments due from companies at the end of March has been deferred until the end of June.
- Mr Sunak said: “And you’ll have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills. That’s a direct injection of over £30 billion of cash to businesses equivalent to 1.5% of GDP."
- After announcing mortgage 'payment holiday' for three months for homeowners last week, Mr Sunak announced a £1 billion package to support renters by increasing the housing benefit under Universal Credit.
- Recipients would receive welfare to pay at least 30 percent of market rents for their local area.
- Stops short of a rental pause.