More measures to help business amid the coronavirus crisis and Boris Johnson orders all cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants to close. Tony McDonough reports
Employees in the private sector will see the bulk of their wages paid by the Government for the first time in UK history as the country steps up its battle with the coronavirus.
And Prime Minster Boris Johnson also ordered all cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants to close on Friday night with nightclubs theatres, gyms, cinemas and leisure centres also ordered to shut down.
Earlier this week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a package of measures worth £350bn to deal with what he called an “economic emergency” and on Friday he went even further with new raft of measures.
In order to avoid job losses as many parts of the economy shut down, Mr Sunak announced that employers will now be able to apply for a grant from HMRC to cover 80% of the salaries of retained workers up to £2,500 a month.
He also revealed that no business will pay VAT until June and they’ll have until the end of the financial year to pay their bills. This, said the Chancellor, represented a £30bn cash injection into the economy.
The previously announced coronavirus business interruption loan scheme will now be interest-free for 12 months, up from the original six months. And the deadline for self-assessment of taxes will be extended to January 2021 meaning self-employed people will have longer to pay their taxes.
Mr Sunak appeared in a joint press conference with Mr Johnson. The Prime Minister said: “We will do everything in our power to help, supporting you directly in a way that Government has never done before, in addition to the package we have already set out for business.”
The order to close down hospitality outlets such as cafes, pubs and restaurants had been expected after reports that too many people were ignoring the Government advice on social distancing.
Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID Company, which represents more than 1,500 business across Liverpool city centre, welcomed the measures announced by the Chancellor saying many firms had been “offered a lifeline”.
He added: “The support for employees is just as important as for business. The Government’s announcement to pay the wages of those not working is welcome, and it will ease the pressure on households as well as business owners. The support for the self employed is a start.
“Yet these remain intensely challenging times, particularly for the hospitality sector, which so many of our towns, cities and households depend upon. The closure of cafes, bars and restaurants is important in terms of social distancing but it is vital we continue to support every level of our business community.
“We will examine the fine print and continue to offer clarification and guidance for everyone who lives, works and operates within Liverpool’s BID areas. At Liverpool BID we will continue to provide a voice for business within the city and beyond. We will continue to offer support through all of our channels and while we may be working remotely we are always contactable.”