Budget 2020: statutory sick pay relief

Chancellor Rishi Sunak identified the government’s response to coronavirus as the ‘key but not the only’ challenge in his first Budget, with opened with a series of ‘temporary, timely and targeted’ measures for individuals who fall ill

As well as the previously announced change to the rules, which mean that statutory sick pay (SSP) will be paid from day one of illness, Sunak announced that this would also be available to all those advised to self-isolate even if they had not yet presented with symptoms.

There will also be no need to go to the doctors for a sick note, which will be made available by the NHS 111 service.

Sunak said: ‘Not everyone will be eligible, for instance those who are self employed or in the gig economy, and they need our help too. During this period we will offer quicker and easier access benefits.’

This includes allowing those on contributory employment support allowance to claim from day one instead of day eight for time spent off work due to coronavirus-related sickness. The minimum income floor for universal credit will be removed temporarily and there will no longer be a requirement to physically attend a job centre, as all applications will be handled by phone or online.

Sunak said the ESA and UC announcements would provide a boost of almost half billion pounds to the welfare system.

He also announced a £500m hardship fund for local authorities to support vulnerable people in their local area. 

Businesses with fewer than 250 employees will have the cost of SSP for any employee off work for coronavirus for up to 14 days refunded by the government in full, which will provide some £2bn to up to two million businesses.

HMRC has been asked to scale up its time to pay service in light of the impact of coronavirus on business activity, with 2,000 staff assigned to a dedicated helpline starting today which will provide advice to business and the self employed on deferring tax payments over an agreed period of time. 

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