The Chancellor announced new measures this week to address what he called a “profound economic challenge”.
- A Job Retention Bonus Scheme – a one-off £1,000 payment to employers for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31 January 2021.
- A VAT reduction from 20% to 5% on the following business activities: any eat-in or hot takeaway food and drinks from restaurants, cafes and pubs, excluding alcohol; all holiday accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites; and, attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos. The cut is valid from 15 July until 12 January 2021.
- An increase in the Stamp Duty Land Tax threshold in England and Northern Ireland – increasing the threshold under which no SDLT is paid on the purchase of a main home from £125,000 to £500,000, with immediate effect until 31 March 2021.
Whilst I welcome many of the new measures the real test is whether they will overcome the lack of confidence people have about going out again.
The measures also did not address the situation of the more than 3 million people who so far have fallen through the gaps in current support schemes. I will continue to lobby for more support for them.
We do not yet know the size, shape or nature of the post pandemic and post Brexit economy. In the meantime, we need these measures to work, to protect jobs and create new ones.