Last week Chancellor Rishi Sunak laid out his plans to build up the UK economy as we begin to emerge from the Covid-19 lockdown in an announcement dubbed the ‘mini-budget’.

 

It’s no secret that several of our biggest industries, including hospitality and retail, have taken a battering over the last 3-4 months, but how does the Chancellor plan on helping them, and the rest of the country, get back on their feet?

 

Eat out to help out

 

In a bid to entice the public back to bars and restaurants, the Chancellor has introduced the ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme, which offers diners 50 per cent off food and non-alcoholic drinks every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday between August 3rd and 31st. Establishments which sell food on the premises, provide a dining area and were registered with the relevant local authority on or before July 7th can register to be part of the scheme, and will then be reimbursed for the discounts given.

 

Registration for the scheme closes on August 31st.

 

VAT reductions

 

Sticking with the hospitality industry, VAT on food, non-alcoholic drinks, accommodation and attractions has been cut from 20 per cent to just 5 per cent, offering a more than welcome £4 billion boost for the sector.

 

Stamp duty holiday

 

In terms of housing, the Chancellor announced an emergency stamp duty holiday in an attempt to revive the suffering property market. Homebuyers will be temporarily exempt from paying the tax for the first £500,000 of any property price. This threshold increase is effective immediately and will run until the end of March 2021, much to the joy of buyers across the country.

 

A plan for jobs

 

From the moment Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the country-wide lockdown in March, talk of mass redundancies has been rife, with many businesses already feeling the effects. The Chancellor attempted to combat this early in the pandemic with the announcement of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and as we begin to face the new normal he made it clear that protecting employment remains at the heart of his plans.

 

As part of this, businesses will be paid a £1,000 job retention bonus for every furloughed worker that is brought back and employed until the end of January 2021. To qualify, workers must have been continuously employed and earned an average of more than £520 per month in November, December and January.

 

Much of the focus remains on the next generation and safeguarding the training and apprenticeship opportunities offered. In the ‘mini-budget’ the Chancellor unveiled a £2 billion Kickstart Plan, a fund which will create Government-subsidised jobs for unemployed young people and allow employers to offer six-month placements for people aged 16-24. The Treasury will cover 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage for each young employee for up to 25 hours a week, with employers able to top up the pay.

 

It was also announced that for the next six months, Government will pay businesses up to £2,000 for every new apprentice under 25, and £1,500 for every new apprentice above 25, hired in an attempt to keep young people in work.

 

Staying green

 

While the general economy was at the forefront of the ‘mini-budget’, the Chancellor didn’t neglect the importance of taking care of the environment as we head back to normality. A £3 billion package of green investment was announced, with around £1 billion set aside to make public sector buildings greener.

 

Homeowners can also benefit from £2 billion of grants to pay for energy efficient home upgrades, which the Treasury hopes will support more than 100,000 green jobs.

 

Up to £40 million will also be provided for a Green Jobs Challenge Fund to create 5,000 jobs at environmental charities and public authorities.

 

If you would like to discuss how any schemes announced in this mini-budget may affect your business, give us a call on 01642 244090.