Key points from budget 2020 – at a glance | UK news

Sunak’s opening remarks

Rishi Sunak opens the budget on the coronavirus outbreak: “I know how worried people are… what everyone needs to know is we are doing everything we can to keep this country and our people healthy and financially secure. This is an issue above party.”

Sunak says “we will get through this together”. But there are other matters also to address, after the election victory. He adds: “We just had a general election where people voted for change … this budget delivers on that change.”

“Yes it is a budget that provides for security today, but it is also a plan for tomorrow.”

Rowena Mason, political correspondent: Sunak focuses his first words on the public health challenges of coronavirus but wants people to remember that the government also has other priorities, like levelling up across the country. He will have a tough job getting anyone to focus on anything but the immediate crisis, though.

Coronavirus

  • Sunak announces a fiscal stimulus totalling £30bn, including welfare and business support, sick-pay changes and local support.

  • He says this includes £7bn for businesses and families and £5bn for the NHS.

  • The chancellor says he believes this is bigger than any other country in the world at present.

Welfare

  • Sunak announces £1bn of additional funding, including a £500m local authority hardship fund.

  • Statutory sick pay will be available to individuals self-isolating. Sick notes will be available by contacting NHS 111.

  • Sunak says millions working self-employed or in the gig economy will also need help. The government will make it quicker and easier to access benefits.

  • Contributory employment and support allowance (ESA) will be claimable from day one, rather than day eight. The minimum income floor for universal credit will be removed. The requirement to physically attend a job centre will be removed – everything can be done on the phone and online.

RM: This has been a massive demand from MPs across the Commons to ensure people who have to spend time off sick are still paid – otherwise they might be tempted to go into work. This will provide some reassurance that help can be accessed more easily and quickly.

Business support

  • Sunak announces £2bn of sick-pay rebates for up to 2m small businesses with fewer than 250 employees,

  • The chancellor announces £1bn of lending via a government-backed loan scheme, with government backing 80% of losses on bank lending.

  • He will also abolish business rates altogether for this year for retailers, in a tax cut worth more than £1bn.

  • Any company eligible for small business rates relief will be allowed a £3,000 cash grant – a £2bn injection for 700,000 small businesses.

RM: Businesses have been extremely anxious about the possible impact of cashflow difficulties if trading slows or staff are off sick because of coronavirus. The package looks quite comprehensive and generous for the smallest struggling businesses, but the small print will be important.

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