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Alongside a $5bn emergency response fund to help the NHS cope with the coronavirus outbreak, small firms will be given the option of accessing business interruption loans of up to £1.2m.

Business membership groups and lobbying bodies have given a warm welcome to the latest budget.

Alongside a $5bn emergency response fund to help the NHS cope with the coronavirus outbreak, small firms will be given the option of accessing business interruption loans of up to £1.2m.

Companies operating in retail, leisure and hospitality will be exempt from business rates if the rateable value is less than £51,000.

“Businesses will be pleased to see the Chancellor announce a pragmatic range of measures, especially on business rates relief, which help to take the pressure off of their cashflow whilst coronavirus brings detrimental economic impact,” said Richard Burge, CEO of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“There is also vital statutory sick pay support proposed for those individuals and businesses who fall unwell with coronavirus.

“Beyond coronavirus, it’s welcome to see the government again commit to a full review of the business rates system, as it’s needed in order to match up our taxation system to the modern world of doing business.

“It’s also welcome to see the government’s commitment to investing in the infrastructure of regions right across the UK, as to fully maximise the opportunities of Global Britain we need all regions flourishing and working harmoniously.

“The capital’s businesses will now be looking to the Spending Review for infrastructure investment that ensures that levelling up the UK doesn’t mean London falls back – as its global economy is key to driving the UK’s post-Brexit future.”

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National chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Mike Cherry, said the “pro-small business Budget” has delivered a high streets bonus and emergency steps to support small firms through the coronavirus outbreak.

He said: “Covering the cost of Statutory Sick Pay and emergency measures for the self-employed are particularly welcome. Removing the minimum income floor for those on Universal Credit will bring help to those working hard to keep their businesses going. These are vital contingencies for the UK’s 5.8million-strong small business and self-employed community.

“There may need to be further steps in the weeks and months ahead. The Bank of England funding package means that there are no excuses for banks not to help, when a small business customer is in distress.”

“Suspending business rates for small high street firms is a huge bonus for our town centres and high streets. Together with extra cash for those that already qualify for small business relief, this shows a real commitment to supporting small businesses at the heart of communities.

“The case for fundamental reform to bring down the burden of such a regressive tax on bricks-and-mortar businesses is now stronger than it has ever been, and FSB is ready to help the government deliver this.

“The sensible compromise on Entrepreneurs’ Relief is one that we have proposed and championed, and everyday entrepreneurs will be pleased to hear the Chancellor say that he has listened to FSB on this.

“This has been a deliberately pro small business first budget for the Chancellor. We hope it is the start of things to come.”

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