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NOTE: This briefing is no longer being updated.

It provides information on the main UK Government and some wider support schemes for businesses affected by the pandemic. Please note that there were further support schemes for specific sectors – and in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – that are not covered in this briefing.

The main areas of UK Government support

Early in the pandemic the Government announced plans for a package of support worth more than £330 billion for businesses, including (but subject to some limitation):

  • A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme that would see HMRC subsidise 80% of furloughed workers’ wages
  • A Self-Employment Income Support Scheme that would pay self-employed individuals up to 80% of their profits
  • A Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme that would offer businesses cheap credit backed by government guarantee, with later expansion to the Coronavirus Larger Business Interruption Loands Scheme and Bounce Back loans (and later the Recovery Loan Scheme)
  • A Covid 19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) for large businesses
  • Scaling up the HMRC Time To Pay service, allowing businesses and the self-employed to defer tax payments, as well as tax deferments on both self-assessment tax returns and quarterly tax returns
  • Government coverage of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) costs for businesses with fewer than 250 employees
  • Business rate relief for all businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector in England
  • Provisions to prohibit forfeiture of a lease for non-payment of rent

The Bank of England reduced the base rate to 0.1% and advised banks not to increase dividends or bonuses in response to the other actions announced.

Wider and later support and developments

Many of the support schemes had been based on assumptions that the pandemic would end comparatively quickly. When this didn’t happen, many of the schemes were extended or redesigned.

Further schemes, such as Eat Out to Help Out and Kickstart, sought to alleviate some of the most pronounced economic effects of the pandemic.

More widely, the insurance industry had to respond flexibly to the pandemic. The response of business interruption insurance policies to the challenges became a particular area of contention.

The continuing situation meant that dealing with the consequences of the pandemic was still the main focus of the Spring 2021 Budget.

The Government announced limited further provision in December 2021.

Our wider resources

All our briefings and other resources relating to the pandemic were listed on the Commons Library coronavirus page. This briefing also signposts relevant Library publications and other sources throughout.

Information about spending on many of the main schemes appears in Coronavirus business support schemes: statistics.

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