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POLITICS


A Budget for business?


The worlds of politics and business rarely stand still. Since the General Election in December, we’ve already had several huge issues to contend with. Outside the Westminster bubble, businesses


of all sizes have been trying to get to grips with the immediate post-Brexit economic landscape, as well as contending with the impacts that major flooding and the coronavirus continue to have. In among all this, both the Government and


the Bank of England have been taking measures to minimise the impacts on the wider economy. The Covid-19 outbreak prompted the Bank of


England to enforce an emergency temporary 0.5% cut of its base rate of interest, to support the economy. Its aim was to give financial services providers


the additional flexibility to increase the help they can offer to businesses whose cash flows and prospects have been disrupted by the fast- growing pandemic. And new Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who was just


days into his role following the resignation of his predecessor Sajid Javid, was handed the unenviable task of delivering the new Conservative-majority Government’s first Budget.


‘Accessing finance remains crucial to the lifeblood of a business and it’s crucial that the flow of credit is maintained’


Given the challenges currently being faced,


the Chancellor’s fiscal plan did a good job of reassuring businesses and communities of the Government’s intention to offer meaningful and robust support during this period of uncertainty. Specifically, support in the form of additional


business rates relief for the leisure, hospitality and retail sectors – and SMEs in general – were welcomed, given the current and anticipated impact of coronavirus. Employers are working closely with employees


on coronavirus concerns. However, the additional support around statutory sick pay for SMEs with fewer than 250 employees was good too see. The introduction of the Coronavirus Business


Interruption Loan Scheme was also welcome, especially when coupled with the cut to interest rates. Accessing finance remains crucial to the


lifeblood of a business and it’s crucial that the flow of credit is maintained, although the acid test for the scheme will be whether it is able to get credit flowing to firms which need it most, rather than the usual suspects. The onset of the coronavirus has swiftly engulfed the media


54 business network April 2020


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