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Rishi Sunak to use first Budget to help businesses hit by coronavirus outbreak

Rishi Sunak to use first Budget to help businesses hit by coronavirus outbreak
2 min read

Rishi Sunak will announce a package of emergency measures to support businesses damaged by the coronavirus outbreak in his first Budget on Wednesday.

The Chancellor is looking at short-term tax holidays for businesses hit by the effects of the crisis, and taxpayer support for small businesses whose employees self-isolate, The Guardian reports.

Tax holidays cover VAT, national insurance and other levies. They were used in 2001 to help farms and other affected by the foot-and-mouth outbreak, at a cost later estimated to be £242m.

Officials are also considering temporarily reintroducing the statutory sick pay rebate, as thousands of UK employees are expected to be asked to stay home as the virus spreads.

That policy, which the coalition government scrapped in 2014, permitted smaller companies to claim a rebate on part of the cost of paying sick pay when the proportion of their staff who are absent passed a set threshold.

Boris Johnson has already announced that the Government will pass a law to ensure workers can receive statutory sick pay (SSP) from the first day of absence.

Mike Cherry, chair of lobby group the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The government needs to recognise that if it wants to make SSP terms more generous, already squeezed small firms need financial support to deliver them.”

The government has said it will take steps to support self-employed and gig economy workers asked to stay home.

The Prime Minister told MPs on Wednesday: “We will take every step we can to make sure that… no one whether employed or self-employed – whatever the status of their employment – is penalised for doing the right thing.”

The National Institute for Economic and Social Research has predicted the coronavirus outbreak could knock 0.5% off economic growth this year.

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