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12 Mar 2020
Chancellor Rishi Sunak used his first Budget to announce a £30 billion stimulus package to support the economy through the coronavirus outbreak.
The Chancellor targeted £12 billion specifically at coronavirus measures, including at least £5 billion for the NHS and £7 billion for businesses and workers. In addition, other spending pledges will add up to £18 billion next year.
The measures include Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from the first day of self isolation for employees, even if they are displaying no coronavirus symptoms. The government will also meet costs for businesses with fewer than 250 employees, of providing SSP to employees off work for up to 14 days due to coronavirus.
In addition, business rates for shops, cinemas, restaurants and music venues in England with a rateable value below £51,000 have been suspended for a year.
The Chancellor unveiled a 'temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme' for banks to offer loans of up to £1.2 million to support small and medium-sized businesses.
Mr Sunak also took action to make it quicker and easier for the self-employed to access sick pay and benefits.
Commenting on the Budget, Iain Wright, Director for Business and Industrial Strategy at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) said: 'In the short term, businesses will be greatly assured by the government's £30 billion pledge to support the UK economy during the coronavirus crisis.'