Last week’s Budget from the new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, included £7 billion of expenditure targeting the impact of COVID-19 on employees, the self-employed and businesses. Less than a week later a further raft of measures was announced, amounting to an additional £20 billion of support expenditure plus £330 billion of loan guarantees.
The Chancellor’s statment this week was accompanied by a repeated promise that he would do “whatever it takes” to counter the impact of the virus. Further announcements can be expected and we will update you as relevant.
We have pulled together a round-up of the key announcements so far for individuals including useful links to Government sites.
Measures for individuals
For people who find themselves in financial difficulties because of coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer at least a three-month mortgage holiday.
Statutory sick pay (SSP)
SSP is currently paid at the rate of £94.25 a week, rising to £95.85 from April. It is now available to employees from day one, instead of day four, for those who are suffering from the virus or who have been advised to self-isolate. So far there has been no change in the minimum earnings threshold for SSP (£118 a week currently, rising to £120 a week in 2020/21).
Individuals ineligible for SSP
Self-employed and gig economy workers generally do not qualify for SSP. Instead they may be entitled to Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA – a basic £73.10 a week for those 25 and over, rising to £74.35 in 2020/21).
Covid-19 sufferers and self-isolators will be able to claim the benefit from day one instead of day eight. The minimum income floor in Universal Credit (UC) has been temporarily removed to ensure that time off work because of sickness is reflected in benefits,.
The Chancellor announced in the Budget a £500 million Hardship Fund, which would be distributed to Local Authorities so that they could support the vulnerable.
On 17 March the Chancellor announced that he was developing “new forms of employment support to help protect people’s jobs and incomes”. More information should emerge in the coming days.
As well as this source check the Government site www.gov.uk.