Spring Budget 2020 includes funding for broader social, economic and other policy measures
Public services, businesses and employees, households, and vulnerable people
Announced on 11 March 2020. Further announcement on £5bn COVID-19 response fund on 19 March. Guidance on hardship fund later published for local authorities (on 24 March). For Statutory Sick Pay refunds, can claim for periods starting on and after 13 March 2020. Opened for applications on 26 May 2020
To fund pressures on the NHS, social care and wider public services. To support people and businesses to cope with the financial impacts of COVID-19
The Spring Budget 2020 includes significant funding to support broader policy measures introduced as part of the pandemic response. £5bn goes towards a COVID-19 response fund for NHS and wider public services for pressures related to COVID-19. It is later announced that £1.6bn of the £5bn fund is allocated to local government.
The government will temporarily extend Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to cover: individuals who are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate; people caring for those within the same household who display COVID-19 symptoms and have been told to self-isolate. The welfare system is the way to access support for self-employed people.
The government announces that it will refund eligible COVID-19-related SSP costs for small and medium-sized businesses – later named the 'Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme'. The refund is limited to 2 weeks per employee. Eligible employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19 (unable to work because they have COVID-19, are self-isolating and unable to work from home, are shielding). Employers should maintain records of absences, but employees are not required to provide a GP fit note.
The government introduces a temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. Lenders are given a government guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per lender cap on claims) and will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee. The scheme will support loans of up to £1.2m in value. Initially, £1bn of lending is available on top of current support offered through the British Business Bank.
The government establishes a hardship fund for local authorities to support economically vulnerable people. The government will provide local authorities in England with £500m of new grant funding to support economically vulnerable people and households in their local area. The government expects most of this funding to be used to provide more council tax relief, either through existing local council tax support schemes, or through complementary reliefs.
The government sets out plans to increase the business rates discount for retail sectors from 50% to 100% in 2021 and expand the relief to the leisure and hospitality sectors. It will also increase the business rates discount from £1,000 to £5,000 for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000. Some small businesses pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR). To support those businesses, the government is providing £2.2bn of funding for local authorities in England. This is to provide £3,000 to around 700,000 business currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief to help meet their ongoing business costs.
The Budget provides support with tax affairs for businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, a dedicated helpline and bespoke tax payment schedules (similar to arrangements used during flooding and financial crisis).
Gov.uk policy paper
Gov.uk guidance – guidance on allocation from COVID-19 hardship fund
Gov.uk guidance – advice for employers on Statutory Sick Pay
Gov.uk news story – COVID-19 sick pay scheme opens
Gov.uk press release – £2.9bn for NHS and local government