POLITICS
08/07/2020 16:50 BST | Updated 09/07/2020 08:21 BST

Everything You Need To Know About Rishi Sunak's £30bn Coronavirus Mini-Budget

All the key policies and takeaways including stamp duty and VAT cuts, an "eat out to help out" voucher, and a plan to save jobs.

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak has outlined an extra £30bn-worth of spending designed to help the UK through what is likely to be the worst recession on record.

It comes on top of the £122bn already shelled out to tackle the coronavirus crisis and comes as ministers grapple with the possibility of mass unemployment in the months ahead.

So what do you need to know?

The grim challenge ahead

Even while imposing austerity after the financial crash, George Osborne liked to talk about sunlit uplands and crack a few jokes.

But Sunak’s grave tone matched the scale of the crisis with a warning that “hardship lies ahead”.

And who can blame him when he is forced to reveal the grim reality that the UK’s economy got 25% smaller in just two months - the same amount it grew over the previous 18 years.

This will come with “significant job losses”, but Sunak underlined the point of his entire statement by declaring: “I will never accept unemployment as an unavoidable outcome”.

A bold chancellor

He’s only been chancellor since February, but Sunak has shown he is unafraid to introduce bold, eye-catching measures in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Despite resisting Labour calls for an extension of the furlough scheme for the worst-hit sectors, he unveiled a package of support for hospitality and tourism businesses which have been shuttered by lockdown and remain highly restricted.

Echoing his boss Boris Johnson, Sunak said he wanted to see “bustling” pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels again while announcing a cut in VAT cut for food, accommodation and attractions from 20% to just 5%, costing £4bn.

The measure will cover eat-in or hot takeaway food from restaurants, cafes and pubs, accommodation in hotels, bed and breakfasts, campsites and caravan sites, and attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos - all until next January.

Officials pointed out this would cover attractions like Alton Towers and Longleat safari park, a £100 a night hotel room in Cornwall or a Premier Inn in Manchester, and a meal at Nando’s or Pizza Express.

Accompanying this was a bold £500m “eat out to help out” plan, offering customers a government-backed 50% discount up to £10 each on dining out between Monday and Wednesday in August.

But perhaps unsurprisingly for the teetotal chancellor, alcoholic drinks were not included in either plan, with the Treasury believing the 80-90% of pubs that serve food can still benefit.

 

Furlough bonus

Sunak had some home truths for workers on furlough, warning that keeping it going until things return to “normal”, whenever that is, risks giving people “false hope” that they will be able to return to their old jobs.

Instead, the job retention scheme is being wound down to its end in October to ensure people are not “trapped in a job that can only exist because of government subsidy”.

But by far the biggest outlay in his speech was a jobs retention bonus, giving employers £1,000 for each worker taken back from furlough in a move that could cost up to £9.4bn.

This will apply to all 9m workers who have been furloughed since coronavirus took hold in the UK - if their employers take them back.

Help for the young

Sunak was particularly focused on young people, who are at very low risk of dying from coronavirus but arguably will suffer the biggest consequences from lockdown.

There was a new scheme which will see companies given £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25, and a new bonus of £1,500 for apprentices over that age, worth £1.6bn.

And there was a £2bn “kickstart” scheme to pay the wages of 16-24 year-olds on universal credit and currently at risk of long-term unemployment. The cash will be available for six month work placements and cover 25 hours a week on the minimum wage.

The Treasury was also keen to point out that its package of support for hospitality will help workers who are disproportionately young and more likely to be female or from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. 

PA
Bar staff waits for customers at the Rochester Castle pub in Stoke Newington, north London, as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased across England.

Something for Tory voters and backbenchers

Sunak needed to have something for traditional Tories worried about all the high spending and he delivered with the abolition of stamp duty on properties worth up to £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland until March 31 next year.

The chancellor pointed out that house buying and selling fell by 50% in May with prices falling for the first time in eight years as he outlined the measure, which will cut the average bill by £4,500 and mean nearly nine out of ten people buying a main home will pay nothing in stamp duty.

The measure will cost the Treasury £3.8bn but Sunak said he needs people to feel “confident to buy, sell, renovate, move and improve”, arguing it will drive growth despite concerns that the move would distort the market.

 

Plenty of winners, but also some losers

While there were plenty of winners in Sunak’s speech, many will be feeling left out.

Self-employed people who only belatedly got help in a grant scheme which is due to run out in August got nothing.

And while many of the measures were a big statement about the government’s drive to open up the economy despite public health risks, there was nothing set aside for businesses that will face local lockdowns to combat coronavirus outbreaks often through no fault of their own.

There was also nothing to help with childcare despite many parents facing the prospect of losing their jobs, and nothing for renters.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
People walk in Melton Road also known as the Golden Mile in Leicester

 

Dodds’ debut

The statement was also notable for Anneliese Dodds’ first big Commons moments as Keir Starmer’s shadow chancellor.

The Labour frontbencher renewed calls for the furlough scheme to be continued for “viable” industries that face a disproportionate impact from coronavirus and accused Sunak of putting off the big economic decisions until autumn.

She also called for an end to the “poverty pay” of social care workers who have played a central frontline role in the crisis and urged ministers to solve the fact that people may be less willing to self isolate if it means going on “low-value” and “limited” statutory sick pay for 14 days.

But Dodds was also forced to confirm that Labour is not proposing a wealth tax after mixed  messages in recent days.

And she repeatedly made the link between the government’s approach to the economy and the health response to coronavirus. 

“The best the government can do to boost demand is to give consumers and workers the confidence and psychological security that they can go out to work, to shop, and to socialise in safety,” Dodds said.

“So please chancellor work with your colleagues so the public health response catches up with that operating in other countries.”