Furlough to be extended until the end of September
- Government to continue paying 80% of employees' wages for hours they cannot work
- Employers to be asked to contribute 10% in July and 20% in August and September
- Support for the self-employed also to be extended until September
- 600,000 more self-employed people will be eligible for help as access to grants is widened
- £20 weekly uplift in Universal Credit worth £1,000 a year to be extended for another six months
- Working Tax Credit claimants will get £500 one-off payment
- Minimum wage to increase to £8.91 an hour from April
Pubs, restaurants and other non-essential retail businesses have been given further help in the Budget.
Measures include extending the VAT cut for the hospitality sector, seen during the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
Alcohol duty is to be frozen.
Gyms and other non-essential retail premises in England will also see the year-long business rates holiday extended for another three months.
Hospitality businesses including restaurants and pubs have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
Government exempted them from paying business rates last year, a tax holiday that was due to end this month.
The exemption is now extended until June, followed by a further six-month period where rates will be discounted to two-thirds of the normal charge, up to a maximum of £2m for closed businesses.
More help for the self-employed has been announced in the Budget, with grants available until the end of September.
These will be the first payments available to an estimated 600,000 people who missed out on earlier support because they couldn't demonstrate their self-employed status on their tax return.
Previous claimants will also be able to apply.
What will the new help be?
Two further payments will be available for self-employed people struggling to work because of coronavirus.
The fourth covers the three-month period from February until the end of April. As with previous SEISS grants, it is worth up to 80% of trading profits, averaged over three months, up to £7,500 in total.
The fifth grant covers May to the end of September, but the amount available depends on loss of income.
Workers whose turnover has fallen by at least 30% can still apply for a grant for up to 80% of profits, up to a value of £7,500 in total.
Those whose income has fallen by less than that can apply for up to 30% of trading profits capped at £2,850.
Claims can be made from next month for the fourth grant. Claims for the fifth grant will open in July.
Who is eligible for the new payments?
Nearly a fifth of self-employed people missed out on previous grants. That's because they had only recently started working for themselves, and so could not prove their income status on their tax return.
But those who completed tax returns for the 2019-2020 financial year will qualify for these new payments, provided they filed their return by midnight on 2 March 2021.
However, self-employed people who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company are still not covered by the scheme. (Although they will have some of their salary covered by job retention schemes if they operate through PAYE).
Other measures include:
Not such good news to the business sector is the announcement that the headline rate of corporation tax will go up from 19% to 25% in 2023, with an exemption for smaller businesses.
The Chamber board will continue to monitor and review announcements in the coming weeks and will update members through the newsletters.