On 8 July Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak revealed a set of new measures to offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the UK economy.
The mini-budget followed the government’s “Build, Build, Build” announcement, which included changes, investment, and opportunities for the UK construction industry and infrastructure sector.
The Chancellor said that the statement was “the second phase of the government’s economic response to COVID-19” and announced several measures that will support construction jobs and boost housing, to protect the sector from mass redundancies later in the year.
The UK’s green recovery
Mr Sunak pledged a green recovery during his speech, announcing a £2bn Green Homes Grant, and a £1bn investment to make public sector buildings greener.
Homeowners and landlords will be able to apply for the £2bn Green Homes Grant to make their homes more energy-efficient.
Mr Sunak said:
“The grants will cover at least two-thirds of the cost, up to £5,000 per household.
And for low-income households, we’ll go even further with vouchers covering the full cost – up to £10,000.”
He claims that these new measures would see up to 650,000 homes retrofitted and create 140,000 green jobs.
Stamp duty holiday
Mr Sunak also announced an immediate stamp duty holiday, exempting the first £500,000 of all property sales from tax. This applies both to first home buyers and those who have owned property before.
The announcement means that homebuyers in England and Northern Ireland will not pay any tax on homes up to £500,000 until 31 March 2021.
Job retention bonus
The Chancellor also launched a bonus to “reward and incentivise” businesses that retain staff once the Jobs Retention Scheme (the ‘furolough scheme’) ends in October.
Employers will be able to claim £1,000 per employee for every worker brought back from furlough and kept in work for at least three months – to the end of January 2021. During the announcement, Mr Sunak said:
“It is vital people aren’t just returning for the sake of it – they need to be doing decent work.
So, for businesses to get this bonus, the employee must be paid at least £520 on average, in each month from November to January.”
The Kickstart Scheme is a new programme with the goal of giving hundreds of thousands of young people, in every region and nation of Britain, the best possible chance of getting on and getting a job.
The Kickstart Scheme will directly pay employers to create new jobs for any 16 to 24-year-old at risk of long-term unemployment.
Firms will be paid £1,000 to take on trainees, with £100m pledged to fund places in high-demand sectors such as engineering, construction, and social care.
Currently, VAT on hospitality and tourism is charged at 20%. In a move designed to support this sector, which was brought to a standstill by lockdown and is struggling to recover, the Chancellor has decided to cut VAT on food, accommodation, and attractions.
Takeaway establishments, restaurants, cafes, pubs, hotels, B&Bs, campsites, caravan sites and attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos will all feel the benefit of this new measure.
VAT has been cut from 20% to 5% until 12 January 2021..
‘Eat Out to Help Out’
The hospitality sector was also given some more good news as the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme was launched.
To help protect 1.8 million jobs in the hospitality sector, the government has announced that restaurants can offer 50% off meals during August, from Monday to Wednesdays, with a maximum discount of £10 per head.
Mr Sunak said that registered businesses can then claim this money back, and the funds will be in their bank account within 5 working days.
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