Supporting people and business during COVID-19

This is an uncertain time and the overriding aim is to save lives and minimise suffering – and governments are being led by the best scientific advice.

Fighting this virus will require a huge national effort and joined up approach from both the UK and Welsh Governments. We must do all we can to save lives, protect the NHS and keep the most vulnerable people in our society safe.

Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel. This advice is particularly important for people over 70, for pregnant women and for those with some health conditions.

The Conservative Government is at the forefront of the effort to back business, to back our economy and to make sure that we get through this. Yesterday the Chancellor announced an unprecedented package of government-backed loans and guarantees to support business.

We will stand behind businesses small and large – providing a £330 billion package of loans and guarantees – equivalent to 15 per cent of our GDP.

This funding announcement will provide over £1.6 billion to the Labour Welsh Government to help all businesses in Wales and the Prime Minister has promised to do whatever it takes to help people and business get through this.

UK Government support for businesses

The UK Government has set out a package of measures to protect public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

Businesses in Wales could benefit from the following schemes:

  1. Support for SMEs who are paying sick pay to employees
  2. Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme via the British Business Bank
  3. Support for businesses paying tax

Welsh Government support for businesses

Because some aspects of business support are devolved, the Welsh Government has set out a range of support measures:

Emergency business support

The Welsh Government has published details of its emergency financial support for small businesses which includes business rate relief and other grants.

Capital repayment holidays

The Welsh Government has announced the Development Bank of Wales will be offering all its business customers a three-month capital repayment holiday to help them manage the financial fallout from the virus.

The following business support helplines could also be of use:

HMRC tax helpline

HMRC has set up a helpline for businesses and self-employed people who are concerned about paying their tax due to COVID-19.

Call 0800 0159 559 for help and advice.

Business Wales helpline

Get help with your business online, or by calling the Business Wales Helpline.

Telephone: 0300 060 3000

Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:30pm

Supporting homeowners and renters

The UK Government has also announced support to homeowners, renters and landlords who may be impacted by coronavirus. These will have to be replicated and approved by the Welsh Government so they apply to people in Wales.

No one who has been impacted by coronavirus should have to worry about getting back on their feet – including homeowners, renters and landlords.

We have announced a package of measures to help these people. These changes will protect all renters and private landlords ensuring everyone gets the support they need at this very difficult time.

The UK Government is doing this by:

• Introducing emergency legislation to protect renters, so that no one gets evicted if they cannot pay their rent. Emergency legislation will be taken forward as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period. As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction.

• Introducing a three month mortgage holiday for those in difficulty due to coronavirus – so that people will not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage while they get back on their feet. And in the coming days, we will go much further to support people’s financial security. We will work with trade unions and businesses to develop new forms of employment support to help protect people’s jobs and incomes through this period.

• Extending the three month mortgage holiday to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulty due to coronavirus. This will alleviate the pressure on landlords, who will be concerned about meeting mortgage payments themselves, and will mean no unnecessary pressure is put on their tenants as a result. At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

Supporting individuals

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.

We are doing this by:

• Making Statutory Sick Pay available for people diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are self-isolating, helping people with their finances. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 who are unable to work because they have the virus or are selfisolating in line with PHE guidance. This is in addition to the change announced by the Prime Minister that SSP will be payable from day 1 instead of day 4 for affected individuals. • Making it easier for people to obtain a sick note. People who are advised to self-isolate will be able to obtain an alternative to the sick note to cover this by contacting NHS 111, rather than visiting a doctor. This can be used by employees where their employers require evidence.

• Supporting people who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, like the self-employed, through the welfare system so that nobody is penalised for doing the right thing. We will make it quicker and easier to access benefits. Those on contributory ESA will be able to claim from day 1, instead of day 8. To make sure that time spent off work due to sickness is reflected in people’s benefits, we are also temporarily removing the minimum income floor in universal credit. This means self-employed people who fall out of work will still get their full payment And we are relaxing the requirement for anyone to physically attend a jobcentre – everything can be done by phone or online. Taken together, these measures on ESA and universal credit provide a boost of almost £0.5 billion to our welfare system.