In last week’s 2020 budget, the Chancellor set out the first stage of our response to tackle Coronavirus, including a £30bn package in support of people and businesses.
This week, the Chancellor is rolling out further support to people across the country for the next few months to help with the cost of living during these economic times.
We will give every British citizen the tools they need to get through this. We will support jobs, we will support incomes, we will support businesses, and we will help people to protect their loved ones. Here’s how.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
We know people are deeply worried about Coronavirus – the impact it will have on their jobs, their incomes and their ability to provide for their families.
We said we would support the British people – and we meant it.
That's why we've announced, for the first time in our history, that we will help pay people’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This Government is offering grants to employers who promise to retain their staff, covering most of the cost of paying people’s wages.
That means we're protecting people's jobs, and supporting businesses who put their staff first.
A three-month mortgage freeze
Many families are concerned about keeping up mortgage payments while Coronavirus continues to spread. That’s why, for those in difficulty due to COVID-19, we are introducing a three-month mortgage holiday.
A mortgage holiday means mortgage payments will be deferred over the holiday period. That means, during the freeze, your monthly payment will change to zero.
So if you’re experiencing a temporary drop of income as a result of Coronavirus, a mortgage holiday may be the kind of support you need while you get back on your feet. This Government is making sure homeowners are protected.
Make claiming for sick pay easier
We’re making sick pay easier to claim and manage, both for individuals and for small businesses.
Firstly, we are ensuring that people who are self-isolating in line with Public Health England’s guidance are also able to receive Statutory Sick Pay and are able to receive it earlier. We will also make it easier to obtain a sick note and ensure there is support in place for people who do not receive Statutory Sick Pay. Nobody will be penalised for doing the right thing.
For the duration for the outbreak, we’re also temporarily relaxing requirements around Universal Credit, such as the minimum income floor, to give extra support to those who need it. Employment and Support Allowance will also be available for eligible people affected by COVID-19 or who are self-isolating from day one.
And people who have been advised to self-isolate can contact NHS 111 rather than visiting a doctor. You can get in touch with NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk.
A £500 million hardship fund
Local authorities are going to be crucial in supporting those who need help. That’s why we are providing £500 million to help councils support vulnerable people and households.
We expect most of this funding to go towards council tax relief, either through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes or through additional relief programmes.
That means reducing people’s tax burdens, lowering the cost of living at a difficult time for many in the country.
A £5 billion COVID response fund for our NHS
During the 2020 Budget, this Government made clear that its overriding objective is to protect life, and protect our NHS. That means it is essential we are giving the NHS all the tools and resources it needs to effectively fight Coronavirus and give it the time it needs to prepare for the outbreak.
We are taking all action necessary, and that starts with an initial £5 billion COVID-19 response fund, so that the NHS can treat Coronavirus patients and so that councils can support vulnerable people in their homes.
We are also working with international partners to ensure that we are at the forefront of the fight to tackle Coronavirus, investing £40 million into new rapid research into the disease and up to £150 million to the International Monetary Fund’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, to help the effort to stop transmission abroad and at home.
The NHS will be at the forefront of our fight against Coronavirus. And this Government will be tirelessly working to protect lives and limit the transmission of the disease. The Conservative Party, this Government, and the Prime Minister, will continue to back business, to back our economy, and to make sure that we get through this difficult time.