This afternoon (Wednesday 11 March) the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, unveiled his first Budget, which contained some significant spending and policy plans to deal with the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) response, which will have a significant impact on Postmasters.
For Postmasters who may be worried about the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses, these plans include:
- Scrapping business rates for small shops with a rateable value below £51,000, along with other measures support for those who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay
- A ‘New style’ Employment and Support Allowance will be payable for people directly affected by Covid-19 or self-isolating according to government advice for from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth day
The Chancellor announced within the Budget that there would be a fundamental review of business rates which he would report back on in the autumn. Post Office’s Public and Corporate Affairs team are already working to establish our position on business rates and will be contributing to the review.
This budget – this Government’s first since the General Election in December 2019 and since exiting the European Union – also includes bringing forward legislation to protect access to cash and ensure that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the long-term.
Post Office will be meeting with Treasury in the coming weeks to discuss today’s Budget announcement further, about introducing legislation to protect access to cash. Millions of customers can do their essential everyday banking at the Post Office branches through its Banking Framework agreement with the UK’s banks and the services we offer are vital, especially for rural and remote communities.
Post Office’s Banking Services Director, Martin Kearsley, said: “We are at the forefront of ensuring those living in rural and less economically developed urban areas can withdraw cash for free through our 11,500 branch network. Where cash is available locally, it is spent locally and we welcome the announcement that legislation will be introduced to protect the cash network, in which we play such a significant part.
“Our postmasters provide a vital, secure and welcoming service in their local communities and as the biggest retail network in the UK, we will continue to be a central component of Treasury and industry proposals to protect free access to cash.”