This afternoon the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, delivered an incredibly positive budget that will level up the whole of the U.K.
Firstly, with recent news coverage focusing heavily on COVID-19, the Corona virus is definitely a huge concern to all of us and doing all that we can to ensure we are kept safe is at the heart of this Government. The Treasury’s response to Coronavirus is very strong and it will help to support people and businesses through any difficulties caused by the illness, including self-isolation.
The measures announced include:
- The NHS to get ALL the extra resources it needs to cope with Coronavirus - including a £5bn Initial COVID-19 Response Fund
- Statutory Sick Pay will apply for self-isolation, and will apply from day 1 (not day 4 as is usually the case)
- Statutory Sick Pay for up to 14 days will be refunded to SMEs by the Government
- Those advised to self-isolate will be able to get an alternative sick note specifically for Coronavirus through NHS 111 (rather than having to visit a doctor)
- Those not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay can claim Universal Credit or enhanced Employment Support Allowance on day 1 of sickness (rather than day 8 as is usually the case)
- The Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be relaxed for those with COVID-19 or those self-isolating
- A £500m hardship fund for local councils to support economically vulnerable people
This is in amongst a raft of other great measures announced, which will reduce taxes on the lowest paid whilst greatly investing in our infrastructure and public services. Some of my particular highlights:
- £5bn to roll out gigabit broadband - with huge benefits to rural areas!
- £1bn for the Shared Rural Network to massively improve 4G coverage in rural areas
- National Living Wage to increase by 6.2% from April
- Increasing the National Insurance threshold to £9,500 (meaning a tax cut for 31 million people!)
- Business Rates removed altogether this year for small businesses (rateable values under £51k) and this 100% rate relief being expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors
- A £5,000 Business Rates discount for pubs (up from £1,000)
- A new Small Business grant of £3,000 for our 700,000 smallest businesses
- Fuel Duty frozen once again, keeping the cost of living down for local residents who rely on their cars for work, study, and family life
- Duty on beer, cider, wine, and spirits also frozen
- Reducing the frequency of reassessments for Personal Independence Payment to reduce anxiety for claimants
- Doubling spending on our flood defences
- Record investment in our railways and roads
- A £2.5bn pothole fund to fix our roads
There’s so much more, but I don’t want this post to be as long as War and Peace!
All in all, this is a great budget from a great Chancellor who has levelling up our part of the country at his core.