I very much welcome the Chancellor’s announcements today. We all know the difficulties that COVID 19 have caused to our economy, with many businesses forced to close to keep people safe during the lockdown period.
It was good to hear that during the initial, bold and unprecedented, support packages the Government announced earlier this year, over 11 million people have been supported through the job retention and self-employment schemes. Further, billions of pounds have been provided for the most vulnerable, over one million businesses have received support to help protect jobs and over a million Government backed loans have been approved to help keep our economy as stable as it could be.
These measures have been one of the widest ranging in the world and were just the beginning. Today the Chancellor took further unprecedented steps to help our economy bounce back better with the Government’s plan for jobs.
To support restaurants and the people who work in them, and to help protect the pocket of hardworking people who are looking forward to returning to a more normal life, during the month of August the Government is giving a 50% reduction, up to £10 per head, on sit-down meals and non-alcoholic drinks Monday-Wednesday. I look forward to taking advantage of this in the many cafes and local businesses across our local area who will no doubt be looking forward to the increased trade this will bring!
As we approach summer (though someone ought to let the weather know) the Government is reducing VAT to 5% for goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors.
This will act as a £4bn catalyst, benefiting over 150,000 businesses, and consumers everywhere - all helping to protect 2.4 million jobs in this vital sector. As a fan of UK holidays, and with an expected increase of “staycations” this year, I’m sure this will benefit many hardworking families.
Many young people are concerned that the Coronavirus will impact their chances of getting onto the employment ladder. That is why I welcome the new programme that will give hundreds of thousands of young people the best possible chance of getting on and getting a job.
This programme, with no cap on the number of places available, is the Kickstart Scheme and will directly pay employers to create new jobs for any 16-24 year old at risk of long term unemployment. The Government will pay young people’s wages for six months, plus an amount to cover overheads. This is an unprecedented step to help young people weather the storm of this crisis and mitigate the impact on their bright futures.
As the furlough scheme ends, as it must do, the Government wants to support employers who successfully bring staff back from furlough. If an employer brings back someone who was furloughed - and continuously employ them through to January, they will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000. This will go a long way to protecting jobs across the country, and fuelling our recovery.
Finally, for those looking to buy their own home, there was good news. At the moment there is no stamp duty on transactions below £125,000 (or £300,000 for first time buyers). Today that threshold was increased to £500,000.
Everyone buying a main home under £500,000 will pay no stamp duty at all. It takes effect today until March 31st 2021 and means 9/10 people of main home buyers will pay no SDLT at all.
These are some of the highlights of the package announced today, and there are many other measures including investments in roads, decarbonisation, green homes, and apprenticeships. As the situation develops, I am pleased that the Government will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure Britain builds back better, and this plan for jobs will go a long way to achieving that.