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Small Businesses: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN HL12919, tabled on 2 February 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the survey by Simply Business, published on 27 January, which found that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the mental health and wellbeing of 82 per cent of small business owners; and what steps they are taking in response.

Answered on

16 February 2021

The Government recognises the significant impact that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had on both employers and employees, and their mental wellbeing.

In order to highlight available support around mental health, the Government is signposting to resources for businesses and employers, including Mind’s website and the Mental Health at Work toolkit, through GOV.UK. We also continue to work with the Thriving at Work Leadership Council to encourage employers to sign up to the Mental Health at Work (MHAW) commitments and to engage leading Mental Health charities and organisations to better understand issues around SME mental health, financial insecurity for small business owners and the self-employed, and continue to explore what further support may be offered.

We also know how worried people are and we are taking many steps to protect both jobs and the long-term financial future of businesses during the current economic emergency. Throughout this crisis, our priority has been clear: to protect lives and livelihoods. We have introduced an unprecedented and comprehensive package of business support measures to help as many individuals and businesses as possible, which has mitigated some of the worst immediate impacts of COVID-19 on risk factors for poor mental health. This includes measures such as the small business grants, the Coronavirus loan guarantee schemes, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the deferral of VAT and income tax payments, and more. Businesses can also access tailored advice through our Freephone Business Support Helpline, online via the Business Support website or through their local Growth Hubs in England. The Business Support Helpline continues to support business owners with tailored advice and information, and also signposts individuals to mental health support services where appropriate.

Further measures were also announced by my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer that build on the significant support already available as well as set out how current support will evolve and adapt. This includes the extension of the CJRS until the end of April 2021, the extension of the Coronavirus loan guarantee schemes until 31 March 2021, and the introduction of Pay As You Grow measures, meaning businesses now have the option to repay their Bounce Back Loans over a period of up to ten years. Businesses who also deferred VAT due from 20 March to 30 June 2020 will now have the option to opt-in to a scheme to allow them to pay in smaller instalments up to the end of March 2022, interest free. Businesses and individuals can use our checker tool on GOV.UK to quickly and easily determine whether they are eligible for any further financial support at this time. We will continue to work with colleagues across Government, businesses and other organisations, to ensure the right support is available for employers and employees.