Amid a global COVID-19 outbreak, the government has revealed the 2020 budget.
Revealing his first budget just this morning, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a number of changes with the aim of protecting the UK economy from the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak.
With restrictions on public gatherings put into force in Italy, France and Germany, similar measures may lie ahead here in the UK, posing a daunting challenge to the venues we all love. Now a few key measures have been put into place to ensure they’re still standing afterwards. (After all, what’s the point of surviving a global pandemic if you can’t go for a pint at the end of it?)
Business rates: smaller hospitality businesses will not have to pay any ‘business rates’ tax this year, a category that includes museums, art galleries, music venues, theatres, restaurants, cafés and nightclubs, to name just a few. That’s a £1 billion saving for them.
Small businesses: very small businesses (that are already eligible for small business rate relief) will get an extra £3,000 grant, which will be worth over £2 billion. For businesses with under 250 employees, the government will cover the cost of sick pay, with a £2 billion rebate fund. There’ll also be emergency loans available for those that need them.
Pubs: will each get an extra £4,000 business rate discount this year, which works out to about £157m. Meanwhile, there’ll be no rise in duty on beer, cider or wine. (It was thought a bottle of wine might get a whole 6p more expensive this year, but no!)
For the rest of us: statutory sick pay will kick in from the first day of any absence, and also cover self-isolating and caring for those at home who might be ill. Self-employed people can access Employment & Support Allowance from Day 1, too. Plus, a small tweak to the National Insurance threshold increasing from £8,632 to £9,500 from April – will make the average person £85 better off each year.
£85 you say? I’ll get the beers in.