Chancellor pledges to ‘turbo charge’ the UK economy in response to COVID-19

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has vowed that in future budgets he will do all he can to ensure the UK remains one of the best places to start a business and one of best places for researchers to create the companies of the future.

Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference, Mr Sunak said: “We will make sure the plans we had in place before (the COVID-19 outbreak) are the right ones, and what we can do to turbo charge them because I want people to look forward, to see opportunity for the future and I am confident we can do that as we exit this crisis.”

Mr Sunak also responded to a report released today by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which says the UK economy could shrink by 35%, by saying he was confident business would “bounce back.”

He said the figure represented “just one potential scenario” but added the government had to be honest that there was “hardship ahead” and that it would not be able to protect every UK business and household.

But he added that the OBR report also stated the impact would be ‘temporary’ and although it would be serious, the economy would ‘bounce back’.

He said: “We are not going to stand back and let this happen and that is why we have created an unprecedented support package for households and businesses. The OBR is clear that without this action, the situation could be worse than it is.

“We do have the right plan.”

£2.6m fund for UK Space technologies to boost NHS Coronavirus response

A new drive to fund space-enabled technology and services that can strengthen the NHS response to coronavirus has been launched today (14 April) by the UK Space Agency.

Satellite data and drone technology can help meet challenges such as delivering test kits, masks, gowns and goggles, managing infectious disease outbreaks and supporting the health and wellbeing of the nation.

An initial £2.6 million is being made available to fund a number of projects to develop hi-tech solutions to these challenges, in a joint initiative with the European Space Agency (ESA) in support of NHS England.

The funding is for projects which will address at least one of the following:

  • Logistics within the health delivery system, e.g. with drone deliveries
  • Managing infectious disease outbreaks
  • Population health and wellbeing
  • Recovering health system function and handling backlogs after the crisis
  • Preparedness for future epidemics

Can your business offer COVID-19 support?

NEW: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) hub

A new hub containing guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE), and infection prevention and control (IPC) is now available, containing information for both health and social care settings and other workers and sectors.

The hub also links to the Cross-government UK-wide PPE plan to ensure that critical PPE is delivered to those on the frontline. This includes a new ‘Make’ strategy of encouraging UK manufacturers to produce PPE. We would welcome support from manufacturers who wish to offer their production facilities where they can meet the required specifications for use by the NHS and care sector. New offers can continue to be made via www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-from-business.

NEW: Help the government increase COVID-19 testing capacity

There is also a new hub for businesses seeking to help the government increase testing capacity in the UK as part of its strategy to protect the NHS and save lives. It includes a raft of information, including specification for the required antibody test and guidance about the criteria laboratories need to meet to partner with a local NHS trust. Businesses can provide support in a number of ways:

Can your business offer further support?
The UK Government is looking for businesses who can offer support in the multiple areas and has set up an online tool where businesses can register. To offer support click here.

Additional new guidance released today

Temporary changes to the Statutory Residence Test

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has proposed a change to the tax legislation to allow highly skilled individuals from across the world to come to the UK and help respond to this unprecedented health emergency. The Statutory Residence Test (SRT) will be amended to ensure that any period(s) between 1 March and 1 June 2020 spent in the UK by individuals working on COVID-19 related activities will not count towards residence tests that potentially bring global earnings within the purview of UK taxation. These changes are time limited and will only support those people whose skill sets are currently required.

Notice to exporters 2020/10: processing licence applications during COVID-19
The Department for International Trade has revised arrangements for processing licence applications during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Find out more here.

Notice to exporters 2020/09: processing licence applications during COVID-19
Details of changes and further clarification on compliance checks for open licences