The Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his 2021 Budget in the House of Commons today.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said his immediate priority continues to be supporting those hardest hit, with extensions to furlough, self-employed support, business grants, loans and VAT cuts – bringing total fiscal support to over £407 billion.
In line with the government’s roadmap for the cautious easing of social distancing rules, the Chancellor pledged to keep economic support in place until the country is out of lockdown.
To protect the livelihoods of those hardest hit, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended to September and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will continue with a fourth and a fifth grant. The Chancellor announced that more than 600,000 people, many of whom became self-employed in 2019-20, may now be able to claim direct cash grants under the SEISS.
In addition, the business rates holiday in England has been extended by an additional three months. That means 750,000 retail, hospitality and leisure properties in England will pay no business rates for three months from 1 April when combined with Small Business Rates Relief, with further relief available for the rest of the year.
To continue supporting the 150,000 businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors and to protect 2.4 million jobs, the government has extended the temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT until 30 September 2021. To help businesses manage the transition back to the standard rate, a 12.5% rate will then apply for a further six months, until 31 March 2022.
Grant funding will be available to businesses in England through a new £5 billion Restart Grant scheme to help the high street, providing up to £18,000, bringing the total spent on business grants to £25 billion.
A new Recovery Loan Scheme will also be launched to replace the existing government guaranteed schemes which have supported £73 billion of lending to date and close at the end of March.
As part of the UK Government’s Plan for Jobs to support, protect and create jobs, the Chancellor is increasing support with £126 million of new money to enable 40,000 more traineeships, and doubling the cash incentive to firms who take on an apprentice to a £3,000 payment per hire. The National Living Wage will be increased to £8.91 from April and there will also be a six-month extension of the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift, with eligible Working Tax Credit claimants receiving a one-off payment of £500.