Sunak sets out Budget to protect businesses

03 Mar

Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out a Budget to protect businesses through the pandemic, fix the public finances and begin building the future economy.

The Chancellor once again pledged to do 'whatever it takes' during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and confirmed that the furlough scheme would be extended until September to support jobs through the crisis.

Mr Sunak also confirmed that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has also been extended, with two further grants this year. It will also be expanded to include all taxpayers who have filed a tax return for 2019/20.

The stamp duty holiday on properties up to £500,000 will continue until the end of June. It will taper to £250,000 until the end of September, and then return to the usual level of £125,000 from 1 October.

Citing the latest economic forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), Mr Sunak said the economy is predicted to grow by 4% this year and by 7.3% in 2022. However, despite further growth predicted for the following three years, the economy will still be 3% smaller in five years' time than it would have been if the pandemic had not hit the economy.

To support businesses as they re-open following lockdown, £5 billion will be made available in restart grants. Businesses re-opening first will be eligible for £6,000 but the leisure and hospitality sectors, which have been worse affected and will re-open later, will be eligible for £18,000.

Hospitality and leisure businesses will also pay no business rates for the next three months, then rates will be discounted for the remaining nine months of the year.

However, the rate of corporation tax will increase to 25% in April 2023 for companies with profits over £250,000.

Turning to duties, tax on beer, wine, cider and spirits have been frozen while fuel duty will also remain frozen for an 11th consecutive year.

Mr Sunak also introduced green measures, including a new national infrastructure bank, which will open in Leeds with £12 billion capitalisation from the government and a green recovery bond that will be made available to retail investors.

He also confirmed the launch of freeports, special economic zones with different rules to make it easier and cheaper to do business.

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