Following the Budget, (Wednesday, 11 March 2020), Dorset chamber chief executive Ian Girling said, “The Budget was dominated by Coronavirus and clearly the government is taking the threat of COVID-19 very seriously.
“Small and medium sized businesses will be reassured that the Chancellor committed to reimburse them for employees’ sick pay for up to 14 days.
“He also launched a disruption loan scheme with the government covering 80% of loans of up to £1.2m from banks. This will assist SMEs.
“There was an extremely welcome announcement of the abolition for this year of business rates for certain sectors.
“Shops, cinemas, restaurants and music venues with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will pay no business rates in the coming year.
“And this will also be extended to museums, art galleries, theatres, caravan parks, gyms, small hotels, B&Bs, sports clubs, nightclubs, clubhouses and guest houses.
“Furthermore, the Chancellor announced a review later this year into business rates, which is something that we and the British Chambers of Commerce have been campaigning for.
“We also welcome extra money for research and development because we have some fantastic businesses in Dorset who will benefit from it.
“Many of our rural businesses will be pleased that relief on red diesel will continue in the agriculture, fishing and rail industries.
“Another encouraging thing was the reiteration of the government’s plan to invest £5bn to help spread ‘gigabit-capable’ broadband ISP networks across the UK by the end of 2025, as well as to push it into new build homes.
“Improved connectivity is vital for our region. The Chancellor spoke of changing the ‘mindset’ of government to consider regions more prominently.
“We hope the South and South West is included in this because there was little for our region specifically in the Budget, especially when it came to infrastructure projects that we very much need.
“For four years businesses have had the uncertainty of Brexit hanging over them, and now they have the uncertainty of Coronavirus.
“The Budget necessarily concentrated on COVID-19 but the situation is changing all the time and more assistance might well be needed in due course.”
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