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Yesterday, Wednesday 11 March, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered his first Budget which included the announcement of several measures to support businesses this year, especially surrounding the uncertainty around Coronavirus (COVID-19).

There were many measures in the Budget which impacted small and independent businesses in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including suspending business rates and the provision of grants for small businesses. Short-term actions include:

  • A new temporary COVID-19 ‘business interruption loan scheme’ will be available to small and medium sized businesses
  • In the next financial year, businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will see business rates suspended
  • A £3,000 cash grant will be provided for businesses currently eligible for small rates relief or rural rate relief.
  • For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, if a member of staff is off work, for up to 14 days, due to COVID-19 the cost of providing Statutory Sick Pay will be refunded by the government in full.

The Mutual Manager of The Retail Mutual, Kirsty Hampton, said: “Many small, independent businesses have suffered at the hand of business rates and so we welcome the announcement from the Chancellor, to suspend business rates. Ensuring that all businesses under the £51,000 rateable value, including shops and restaurants, pay no business rates presents an opportunity for resilience ahead of a predicted tough trading year.”

“Often independent retailers can be found at the heart of a community and providing a £3,000 grant for the smallest businesses that are eligible for small business rate relief will be a great support to enable them to stand together in this uncertain time.”

Other measures announced in the Budget, outside of COVID-19, which have an impact on businesses include:

  • National Living Wage is to be raised to over £10.50 an hour
  • Increase of Employee National Insurance Contributions tax threshold from £8,632 to £9,500
  • Flood defence funding of £120 million will be available immediately to repair all flood defences damaged this winter. A further £200 million to be provided to local communities to build their local resilience.

Mrs Hampton continued: “The UK has experienced a number of storms so far this year which we have seen damage properties across the country, and so we also welcome the flood defence funding detailed in the Chancellor’s Budget. This will enable communities to repair damage beyond their local businesses.”

“The actions detailed by the Chancellor in the Budget is a great step forward to maintaining the UK’s high streets and presents an opportunity for them to evolve.”

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