Budget 2020: Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledges sick pay to any Brits off due to coronavirus

Sweeping changes as the outbreak escalates

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Those who find themselves forced to self-isolate due to the coronavirus outbreak will be eligible for sick pay whether they have the virus or not.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak made the announcement in his Budget speech this afternoon (Wednesday, March 11), when he told MPs the Government’s response to the crisis will be “temporary, timely and targeted” while having a “maximum impact”.

Rishi Sunak
Anyone off due to coronavirus will receive sick pay (Credit: YouTube)

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And he promised that Brits won’t have to have contracted coronavirus in order to receive sick pay, the Metro reported.

To support businesses with employees having to take time off because of the bug, the Government will be refunding the cost of statutory sick pay for firms with fewer than 250 workers.

In his Budget speech – the first since Boris Johnson became PM and the first since Brexit – Rishi also pledged to give the NHS the resources it needs to cope with the outbreak.

MPs in House of Commons during Budget
Rishi Sunak delivered his first budget speech today (Credit: YouTube)

He said at the Commons: “Whatever extra resources our NHS needs to cope with Covid-19, it will get.

“So, whether it’s research for a vaccine, recruiting thousands of returning staff, or supporting our brilliant doctors and nurses, whether it’s millions of pounds or billions of pounds, whatever it needs, whatever it costs, we stand behind our NHS.”

In recognition of these exceptional circumstances, today I am taking a significant step.

Speaking further, the recently appointed Chancellor said that small- and medium-sized businesses would be hit “hard” if, as experts predict, one-fifth of the UK workforce is unable to work at once.

He continued: “In recognition of these exceptional circumstances, today I am taking a significant step. For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, I have decided that the cost of providing Statutory Sick Pay to any employee off work due to coronavirus will, for up to 14 days, be met by the Government in full.”

Boris Johnson
The Government will be refunding small businesses with fewer than 250 staff (Credit: YouTube)

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Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn was heavily critical of the Government after the Budget speech concluded, when he said: “The coronavirus outbreak is an emergency and so I want to make it clear that we will have to work together, all of us, to meet this head on and to overcome it.

“But we’ll only overcome this virus because of the dedication of our NHS staff, carers and public servants. The steps the Government has announced today to head off the economic impact of the coronavirus are obviously welcome, but… we have to be straight with people.

The Labour Leader added: “It’s going to be much tougher because of the last 10 years of deeply damaging and counter-productive cuts to all of our essential public services. We’re going into this crisis with our public services on their knees.”

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