He outlined financial support measures from an economic response to the impact of coronavirus, at a press conference held today (17 March), less than a week after his Budget (11 March), which also included a grant of up to £25,000 per business for pubs with a rateable value of less than £51,000.
He also highlighted how pubs that have insurance policies that cover pandemics will be able to claim against their policy.
Sunak said: “As well as access to finances, businesses need support with their cash flow and fixed costs. Following the changed medical advice yesterday (16 March), there are concerns, there are concerns about the impact on pubs, clubs, theatres and other hospitality, leisure and retail venues.
“Let me confirm that for those businesses, which do have a policy for insurance that covers pandemics, the Government’s action is sufficient and will allow businesses to make an insurance claim against their policy."
He added: “But many of those businesses don’t have insurance – so we will go further. I announced last week that for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £51,000, they will pay no business rates this year.
“Today I can go further and provide those businesses in those sectors with an additional cash grant of up to £25,000 per business to help bridge through this period.
“Additionally I am also extending the business rates holiday to all businesses irrespective of their rateable value."
Sunak said: “That means every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant and any other business in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector will pay no business rates whatsoever for 12 months and if they have a rateable value of less than £51,000 they can also now get a cash grant as well.”
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls cautiously welcomed the announcement.
She said: "The chancellor has clearly been listening and these extra measures represent proper progress on last week’s budget.
"The focus now has to be on making sure that hospitality businesses can draw down the support loans and other funds while they still have businesses to operate, such are the levels of urgency for most businesses.
“We will wait with great anticipation and hope that the detail on employment support measures live up to the hype but, if they are substantive, this could amount to a really helpful raft of support - this needs to come urgently as jobs are being lost every day.
"Cash flow is the key focus for companies endeavouring to survive. We only hope that this can be enough.”
While the Campaign for Real Ale national chairman Nik Antona said the measures did not go far enough in ensuring no pub, club or brewery goes out of business as a result of the current crisis.
He added: "While a business rates holiday for all hospitality businesses and rates relief for eligible pubs will help alleviate some costs, this will do little to compensate for the potential collapse of cash flow in businesses, which customers have been told to stay away from. Making loans to businesses with no money coming in and multiple overheads to meet through a period of no, or low trading, is simply kicking the can down the road.
"We would urge additional measures to cover all liabilities, however long the restrictions on pubs, to ensure these vital businesses can emerge unsaddled by debt and able to deliver the many benefits to the communities they serve."
The Chancellor also outlined "unprecedented package of Government-backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses to get through this."
He went on to say he was making an initial £330bn of guarantees through schemes.
The first was agreeing a new lending facility with the Governor of the Bank of England to provide "low cost, easily accessible commercial paper".
The second was extending the Business Interruption Loan Scheme he announced at the budget so instead of loans of £1.2m, it will now provide loans of up to £5m, with no interest for the first six months.
Sunak vowed both of these schemes will be up and running by the start of next week.