Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced government business grants to cover 80% of wages of those employees not working due to coronavirus as the government today introduced more stringent social distancing measures to curb the ongoing crisis.
Businesses will be able to contact Revenue and Customs for grants to cover the wages of those not working but furloughed or kept on retention.
The grant is available to any UK business and will cover 80% of salaries for workers for up to £2,500 a month.
They will be backdated to 1 March and open initially for at least three months to be extended longer if necessary.
Sunak said: ”I am placing no limit on the amount of funding available for the scheme and will provide grants to support as many jobs as necessary.”
The first grants are to be paid in the next week and fully completed before the end of April.
Sunak also announced that the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be interest-free for 12 months, rather than six, and will now be available from Monday.
Further measures for larger and medium businesses will be announced next week.
The government will defer the next quarter of VAT payments, meaning no business will pay any VAT from now until the end of June. Self-employed workers’ next tax self-assessment has deferred to January 2021.
The universal credit standards allowance has also been increased by £1,000 for the next year and self-employed workers can now access universal credit at the rate of statutory sick pay.
It comes as the government has ramped up its social distancing measures, asking all clubs, pubs, bars, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close as of tonight.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “This goes against the freedom-loving instincts of the British people and I also know how much workers right now deserve the financial reassurance that we are giving.
“Because of these [social] sacrifices, fantastic British companies are already under huge strain, and workers are finding their jobs under strain or going through no fault of their own. To all of them we say we will stand by you.”