The Chancellor announced a multi-billion pound package of measures to help businesses, and those who are self-employed, through the coronavirus outbreak – and the Island’s MP wants to know what Island businesses make of it.
“The Chancellor set out a very strong budget showing the government’s commitment to tackling the coronavirus outbreak in the UK and long-term investment in the UK economy.
“I am keen to hear from the Island’s business community about the measures being introduced by the government to support businesses through this coronavirus outbreak, so that we can assess the impact this might have on the Island’s economy – in particular its visitor economy.
“I have been contacted by a couple of Island businesses who are concerned about their business interruption insurance. If this is an issue for Island businesses, I am very keen to hear from them.
“Clearly if people decide – or are advised – to change their travel habits and plans then that could have a serious impact on the visitor economy. I am keen that this vital aspect of our economy gets all the practicable support possible. Businesses themselves best understand the issues here and that is why I am keen to hear from them.
“I will be writing to the Federation of Small Businesses and the IW Chamber of Commerce to hear their collective views, but I would welcome too input from individual businesses as well.”
Bob said that on top of the wider Budget provision, the Government was doing the following to support business in the next few months.
• Bringing forward legislation to allow SMEs and employers reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. This refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been ill because of COVID-19; Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible; Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP as a result of COVID-19. Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.
• Increasing the Business Rates retail discount to 100 per cent for one year and expanding it to the leisure and hospitality sectors, and the introduction of a £5,000 rates discount for pubs. Taken together with existing Small Business Rates Relief an estimated 900,000 properties, or 45 per cent of all properties in England, will receive 100 per cent business rates relief in 2020-21.
• Launching a new an additional £2.2 billion funding for Local Authorities. This will support small businesses that pay little or no Business Rates because of Small Business Rate Relief.
• Helping smaller businesses with the access to finance they need. The British Business Bank will help smaller businesses access much needed finance through the new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, providing up to £1 billion to protect and support smaller firms.
• Supporting businesses through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. Businesses and self-employed people in financial distress may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.
In the meantime, as the country moves from ‘contain’ to ‘delay’ in its response to coronavirus, Bob is urging all Islanders to follow the official advice on hand washing and self-isolation here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
The MP is now holding telephone calls with Islanders instead of meeting them face-to-face during local surgeries.