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Coronavirus: what’s happened so far?

Last updated: 23 September 2020

From the economy to Government support and, perhaps, your own finances, a lot has changed in a short time due to coronavirus. Here’s a recap of some of the key changes.

Economic impact

With many businesses across the UK having to close to stem the spread of coronavirus, economic activity has fallen. Employees have been let go, or furloughed, until businesses can reopen again. 

As of 16 August, 9.6 million people were covered by the Government’s furlough scheme.1 On 12 May, the Government announced that this scheme will run until the end of October.

According to Zoopla’s UK Cities House Price Index, the demand for housing fell by 70% between the start of March 2020 and the week ending 29 March.

However, Zoopla reported that in August new sales were 76% ahead of the five-year average and the number of new homes coming on to the market is 50% up on the same time last year.

The FTSE 100, which tracks the performance of the 100 largest companies on the London Stock Exchange, dropped significantly in March, but trended higher throughout April, May and June. 

On 11 March 2020, the Bank of England (BoE) cut the Bank Rate to 0.1%. The Bank Rate is the rate at which the BoE lends to commercial banks, which then impacts the rates customers get when they borrow or save money. However, while the Bank Rate is influential, it’s not the only thing that determines the interest rate you may get from a bank.

Changes to Government support

To help people overcome some of these economic challenges, the Government has introduced a range of measures. These include:

  • HMRC will currently reimburse 80% of wage costs for workers who’ve been furloughed, the scheme will run until the end of October
  • a taxable grant up to 80% of trading profits (up to the value of £2,500) for 3 months for self-employed people – you’ll need to fit the eligibility criteria to be able to claim this
  • for businesses, The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows employers to get help in paying employee salaries, if employees would have otherwise been laid off. It’s available for UK employers with a PAYE scheme
  • a reduction in the amount of stamp duty that is taxed for some homebuyers

See more about support measures announced by the Government.

Help with your finances

Banks have also announced changes to help customers. For HSBC customers, some of these measures include:

Changes to travel

On 17 March, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This advice took effect immediately.

However, as of 10 July, the FCO has exempted a number of countries/regions from this advice.

See the FCO's latest guidance.

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