Budget 2020: COVID-19

Supporting those affected by COVID-19

Following delivery of yesterday’s Budget, a comprehensive set of measures has been announced to help support individuals affected by COVID-19. These new guidelines are designed to boost healthcare funding, reduce transmission, and offer financial protection to those unable to attend work as a result of the virus.

Public Services

Budget measures include:

  • The creation of a £5 billion Initial COVID-19 Response Fund to help the NHS, local councils and other public services with treatment and control.
  • £40 million of research funding to enable improved testing and surveillance. 
  • £500 million more funding so that Local Authorities can support economically vulnerable people and households.

Support for Affected Individuals

 Budget measures include:

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be available to individuals affected by COVID-19 who are in self-isolation. SSP will now be available from Day 1 of sickness, rather than Day 4. 
  • Those who are not eligible for SSP can now make a claim for Universal Credit or an enhanced Employment and Support Allowance. 
  • The requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are self-isolating according to government advice.
  • Individuals will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate.
  • Employment and Support Allowance, up to a maximum of £111.65pw, will be payable for eligible people affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating from Day 1 of sickness, rather than Day 8.

Support for Businesses

Budget measures include: 

  • Legislation to allow SMEs and employers to reclaim 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.
  • Increase in Business Rates retail discount to 100% for one year, expansion to the leisure and hospitality sectors, and the introduction of a £5,000 rates discount for pubs. 
  • £2.2 billion funding for Local Authorities to support small businesses that pay little or no Business Rates because of Small Business Rate Relief.
  • A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.
  • Support for businesses and the self-employed managing their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. Businesses can contact HMRC’s new dedicated COVID-19 helpline on 0800 0159 559 for advice.