By 17th March 2020, the UK government announced an ‘unprecedented’ set of financial measures to prop the UK economy up and carry it through the coronavirus pandemic, in line with the Prime Minister’s plan to suppress the virus and put home isolation measures into place.
The updates to the original plan, which before had mainly dealt with businesses, made the following promises:
- £330 billion government loans and guarantees, aimed at businesses to help them pay wages and suppliers, and keep afloat
- A business interruption loan scheme, offering up to £5 million per small business depending on their eligibility
- £25,000 cash grants for smaller businesses which don’t have insurance
- £10,000 cash grants for the smallest, family-run businesses
- Three-month mortgage holiday for those who need it
- Business rate holiday for those who need it
Guidance for individuals who can’t work due to the Coronavirus
A number of measures were put into place quickly to ensure that individuals unable to work would still be supported.
The furlough package, launched under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, meant that employer’s could keep staff on a payroll without having to pay for their salary – under the support of the government who pledged to pay 80% of all furloughed staff salaries, for eligible businesses, up to a total of £2,500 per individual per month. Read more here.
Another option for individuals out of work is to apply for Universal Credit – a payment made to support individuals with the cost of living, aimed at those on a low income, out of work, or unable to work due to sickness. Read more about eligibility here.
Statutory Sick Pay
Typically, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is paid to an employee by their employer if they are sick and unable to work, often capped at a certain period, with many requiring a Doctor’s note.
Under the Coronavirus support scheme, the government promised to repay employers any SSP paid out to employees who have Coronavirus symptoms, or if they are isolating because someone they live with has symptoms. The weekly rate currently sits at £95.85 per person.
Additional finance schemes added by the UK government
On 8th April 2020, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak made an announcement which promised £750 million of Coronavirus funding to frontline charities – promising to give them the support they needed to ensure their vital services could still run.
The charities referenced included hospices and domestic abuse charities.
Of the £750 million:
- £360 million was allocated directly by government departments to charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable individuals
- £370 million was allocated for small and medium sized charities, including a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund which provides financial support to community organisations supporting those in need during the crisis and beyond
- £20 million was allocated directly to the National Emergencies Trust Appeal
In true British style, the government also pledged to match fund everything raised by the public during the BBC’s ‘Big Night In’ charity appeal, which was held on 23rd April. The Big Night In raised more than £27 million.
On 20th April a further financial scheme was announced, pledging a £1.25 billion government support package, designed specifically for UK businesses driving innovation and development:
- £500 million in investment for high-growth companies impacted by the pandemic – the ‘Future Fund’
- £750 million in grants and loans for research and development SME’s