Somewhere buried in the middle of the unfolding Covid-19 crisis in March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled his first Spring Budget. While the global pandemic is sure to leave a deep scar which will, in time, need to be treated, it’s important for businesses to bear in mind that the provisions made in the Spring Budget will start to affect them long before the current crisis subsides.
With many small businesses closed or operating with reduced capacity, now is the ideal time to consider the implications of the Spring Budget for when life begins to return to normal:
1) Staff Absence Through Ill-Health
Even before the UK’s lockdown was introduced in March, many businesses were feeling the pinch with employees taking time off-work with sickness. If you employ less than 250 people, you can now claim a refund of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to help cover your costs, up to a maximum of 14 days. The employees won’t need to obtain a GP’s note.
2) Retail, Leisure, And Hospitality
Businesses with a rateable value below £51,000, who operate in the retail, leisure, and hospitality sectors, will benefit hugely this year from a 100% reduction in business rates, offering a saving of up to £25,000. Pubs will receive an increased discount of £5,000, while the freezing of duty on alcohol means that customers won’t have to pay higher prices, helping to secure their loyalty.
3) Fuel Costs
The rising cost of fuel in recent years has been a concern to many small businesses, especially those with regular transportation costs. The freezing of fuel duty in the Budget will come as a relief to business owners, while the more recent plummet in the value of oil has also driven down fuel prices on the forecourts to their lowest in years.
With so much commerce now carried out online – and the Covid-19 lockdown increasing the number of employees working remotely – fast, reliable broadband is a must-have for businesses of all sizes. With the upgrade of Internet infrastructure a priority for the current administration, the Budget confirmed a £5bn injection of cash to fund superfast broadband for all parts of the UK.
5) Roads And Transport
Many small businesses rely on the transportation system for a timely supply chain, with congestion and delays a source of frustration and reduced productivity. In his Spring Budget, the Chancellor announced £27bn for road improvements (particularly motorways and arterial routes) and £2.5bn for resurfacing and pothole repairs, offering small businesses a glimmer of light that an improved road network may benefit their businesses in the medium-term.
6) Recyclable Packaging
For small businesses in manufacturing or product delivery, packaging is a bulky commodity. From April 2022, packaging that contains less than 30% recycled content will incur a £200 per tonne charge.
7) Getting A Grant?
Businesses that are eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) will be eligible to apply for a grant to meet business costs of up to £3,000.
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