Farm businesses are set to be among the beneficiaries of a £20bn package of financial support unveiled by the Chancellor to tackle the economic impact of coronavirus.
Rishi Sunak spoke alongside Boris Johnson at a press conference on Tuesday (17 March) to add to the £7bn of measures he had unveiled less than a week earlier at the Budget.
It comes as the number of cases of the disease in the UK reached 1,950.
Both repeatedly pledged to do whatever it takes to protect businesses from catastrophic loss of trade as people stay at home as part of measures to reduce the pace of the spread of Covid-19.
From next week, all small and medium sized businesses will be able to borrow up to £5m each, with no interest payments for the first six months, to support the payment of wages and other bills.
This will be called the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan and business owners will be able to access it directly through their bank.
The Chancellor also pledged additional cashflow support for the leisure and retail sector, which will come to the aid of some diversified farm businesses.
Any firm with ‘business interruption’ insurance that covers pandemics will be able to make a successful insurance claim, he said.
For those without insurance, and a rateable value of under £51,000, there will be a cash grant of up to £25,000/business.
This will be in addition to those firms having no business rates to pay this year as announced at last week’s budget.
The chancellor also took a further step to help the smallest businesses in the UK.
He said: “I also announced last week that we would be providing £3,000 cash grants to the 700,000 of our smallest businesses.
In light of the new circumstances, and to support their cash flow, today I can increase those grants to £10,000.
Support for individuals
The Chancellor also unveiled new help for individuals by pledging that he would work with banks and other lenders to give most mortgage holders a three month payment holiday.
He also said that he would be doing further work in the coming days and weeks to put together additional measures that would support financial security for people.
No threat to food supply
Boris Johnson also reiterated his complete confidence in the food supply network during the crisis.
He said: “We are absolutely confident our supply chains are working, and will work, and we will get farm to fork food supplies.”