17 March 2020 | UK NEWS
In a joint press conference with the Prime Minister, being the first in a series of daily updates issued by the Government to the press from today, the new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced a further package of measures designed to help individuals and businesses weather the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the UK.
The measures announced this evening included:
- Business support loans backed by the Government, worth up to £330 billion in total;
- Small businesses can also receive a cash grant of up to £10,000 to help cover their costs;
- Smaller social venues without insurance will also receive cash grants up of to £25,000;
- Homeowners will be able to apply for a mortgage ‘payment holiday’ from their bank of up to three months;
- The business rate holiday was also extended;
- A potential support package for airlines and airports was also mooted.
These measures are in addition to those already set out in the Chancellor’s first Budget last week, in which he announced a support package worth some £33 billion amid a number of other extraordinary measures to help Britain weather this crisis.
Many firms have begun implementing remote working arrangements for some or all of their staff. However, the Chancellor said tonight that businesses should not necessarily be considering making any staff redundant at this stage, adding that “they don’t need to rush these decisions”. Mr Sunak also stated that the country would get through this “whatever it takes”.
Comments are already beginning to surface tonight about the lack of support thus far announced for two key groups of people in society: renters, and the self-employed. For example, a person working in a field such as tourism or childcare on a freelance basis, and potentially with a variable income, would still be without much help at this stage. The impact of this would be particularly acute if they rent their home from a private landlord.
It comes amid rumours circulating in Westminster this evening that Number 10 may be planning to request an extension of the Brexit transition period after all, having previously strenuously denied that this would happen under any circumstances.
The concern is said to be that firms and individuals already suffering from the impact of Coronavirus on the economy by the end of this year would struggle to implement any measures that would be required in the event of a no-deal Brexit, should the negotiations with the EU collapse as many have anticipated. However, Downing Street has firmly denied this so far.
It has been claimed that this is a very recent shift in policy, having developed only since the weekend. We will bring you any further updates we receive on the impact on the Brexit process as they emerge.