Supporting UK Businesses
ONE-MONTH EXTENSION FOR FURLOUGH SCHEME
The Government has extended its furlough scheme that is keeping millions of employees in jobs until the end of June.
Following last week's confirmation that the UK will remain locked down until at least the 7 May 2020, the job retention scheme is to stay open until 30 June 2020.
Both the lockdown measures and the furlough scheme remain under constant review and could be extended further if necessary.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:
"With the extension of the lockdown measures, it is right to extend the furlough scheme for a month to the end of June to provide clarity.
"It is vital for people's livelihoods that the UK economy gets up and running again when it is safe to do so, and I will continue to review the scheme."
Employers that began furloughing staff last month have begun to apply for help with their wage bills, with April's payroll looming for many.
The Treasury said more than 140,000 firms applied for emergency funds in the first eight hours of the scheme opening on 20 April 2020.
The scheme funds 80% of workers' wages, up to £2,500 a month, if they were put on leave after 1 March 2020.
CHANCELLOR EXPANDS LOAN SCHEME FOR LARGE FIRMS
All large businesses with turnover of more than £45 million can apply for the coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme next week.
Firms with a turnover of more than £45m are eligible for up to £25m, while businesses with a turnover exceeding £250m qualify for £50m.
The Treasury will start processing loan applications from large firms affected by COVID-19 when the scheme goes live on Monday 27 April 2020.
When the large business loan scheme was first announced in early April, large businesses with turnover of more than £500m were excluded. This is no longer the case.
The scheme aims to help firms that don't qualify for either the existing business interruption loan scheme or the COVID-19 corporate financing facility.
The Government is to provide accredited lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to speed up the process.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:
"I want to ensure that no viable business slips through our safety net of support as we help protect jobs and the economy.
"That is why we are expanding this generous scheme for larger firms.
SHOPS GET RENT BREAK DURING CRISIS
Temporary measures to protect high street businesses against aggressive debt recovery actions during the COVID-19 crisis have been announced.
The Government will temporarily ban creditors from using statutory demands between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020.
Any winding-up petitions issued to commercial tenants between 27 April 2020 and 30 June 2020 will also be voided.
Retailers and other companies that are struggling to pay their bills due to coronavirus are instead being asked to pay what they can.
In addition, commercial landlords will be unable to use commercial rent arrears recovery unless they are owed 90 days or more of unpaid rent.
Alok Sharma, business secretary, said:
"It is vital we ensure businesses are kept afloat so they can continue to provide the jobs our economy needs beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
"I know that like all businesses commercial landlords are under pressure, but I would urge them to show forbearance to their tenants.
"I am also taking steps to ensure the minority of landlords using aggressive tactics to collect their rents can no longer do so while the COVID-19 emergency continues."
Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the British Retail Consortium, added:
"Rents are a huge burden for retailers that must be paid even where shops are closed and this announcement protects firms who - during these extraordinary times - are unable to meet their rent obligations.
"This will give retailers some vital relief and help safeguard millions of jobs all across the country."