UK Chancellor Sunak extended the furlough scheme till the end of September as he vowed to protect “the jobs and livelihoods of the British people”.
“We will continue doing whatever it takes to support the British people and businesses through this moment of crisis,” Sunak said in his budget speech Wednesday.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, or the furlough scheme, began last year to save jobs during the crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Sunak also said the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will?continue with a fourth and a fifth grant.
The chancellor extended the business rates holiday in England by an additional three months. Retail, hospitality and leisure properties are thus exempted from paying business rates for three months from April 1.
Sunak also extended the temporary 5 percent reduced rate of VAT until September 30, 2021, thus benefiting 150,000 businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors that employ around 2.4 million persons.
Businesses will pay a 12.5 percent rate for a further six months, until March 31, 2022.
The chancellor launched a GBP 5 billion Restart Grant scheme to help the high street, and a new Recovery Loan Scheme to replace the existing government guaranteed schemes that close at the end of March.
Sunak announced an extra GBP 1.65 billion to maintain the momentum of the roll-out of coronavirus vaccination in England. The government will invest a further GBP 50 million to boost the UK’s vaccine testing capability.
The chancellor increased the funding for the Plan for Jobs schemes by GBP 126 million to boost traineeships, and double the cash incentive for firms taking on apprentices. The national living wage was raised to GBP8.91 from April.
The budget also launched a new mortgage guarantee scheme that will enable homebuyers to secure a mortgage up to GBP 600,000 with a 5 percent deposit. The temporary cut in Stamp Duty Land Tax was extended to September.
Fuel duty was frozen for the 11th consecutive year. Duty rates for beer, cider, wine and spirits were also frozen.
Sunak said the rate of Corporation Tax will increase to 25 percent, but the hike will not take effect until 2023. Only businesses with profits of GBP 250,000 or greater will be taxed at the full 25 percent rate.
The chancellor also said the UK will launch world’s first sovereign green savings bond for retail investors to allow savers support the country’s transition to net zero by 2050.
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