• Support for Businesses

    The Moorlander
    27 March 2020

    As Chair of the Treasury Select Committee I recently questioned the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he appeared before our committee on the various policies announced in The Budget and the Government's response to the coronavirus outbreak. My questions focused on the support being provided to businesses and their employees - the full interview is available at

    What the Government has done in the past fortnight is totally unprecedented, as we face a crisis which may turn out to do more economic damage, both within the UK and globally, than the financial crisis of 2008. Many businesses are seeing a large and sudden slump in revenues. The businesses which will either be able to carry on as usual without having to manage several months of downtime are very much in the minority. 

    So the Government has introduced a number of measures, not previously seen in either peacetime or wartime, to support businesses and their employees. These include The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, through which businesses will receive grants to cover 80% of their employees' wages, up to £2,500 a month per worker. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme via the British Bank will provide interest free loans for 12 months and VAT payments for the next quarter will be deferred, so no business will pay any VAT for the next three months. Small and medium-sized businesses will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees for sickness absences and businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief will be eligible for a grant of £10,000. Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England will have a one-year business rates holiday and those with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 will be eligible for a grant of up to £25,000.

    The help the Government is providing businesses should have a significant knock on effect on employees, particularly the grants to cover 80% of wages, but I remain very concerned about the level of support being provided to self-employed workers. I appreciate this is a complicated area, as many have a variable monthly income, but I have been in direct contact with the Chancellor about bringing forward further help for the 5 million self-employed who are the backbone of our economy.

    The Government has also negotiated with mortgage lenders so any homeowner or landlord can apply for a three-month mortgage payment holiday (with landlords then able to pass on rent holidays to their tenants). You don't need to have contracted coronavirus to apply for a payment holiday, it is available to anyone concerned about their ability to meet their mortgage repayments.

    And finally, please stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel. The strictness of the measures announced by the Government this week were not taken lightly - they are a necessity and will help those fantastic people in the front line within our NHS save lives.

    For more from Mel follow him on twitter @MelJStride or visit