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Budget 2021: Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces extension of furlough scheme, self-employed support and increase of minimum wage

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has set out his plan to help the country economically recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons, Mr Sunak outlined his three-point plan for the economy.

"This budget meets the moment with a three-part plan to protect the jobs and livelihoods of the British people. First, we will continue doing whatever it takes to support the British people and businesses through this moment of crisis. Second, once we are on the way to recovery, we will need to begin fixing the public finances – and I want to be honest today about our plans to do that. And, third, in today's budget we begin the work of building our future economy," he said.

Highlights

Furlough scheme extended

Announcing the details, Mr Sunak confirmed that the furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September and employees will continue to receive 80% of their salary for hours not worked.

"As businesses reopen, we’ll ask them to contribute alongside the taxpayer to the cost of paying their employees. Nothing will change until July, when we will ask for a small contribution of just 10% and 20% in August and September," he told MPs.

Support for self-employed

Support for self-employed workers will also continue until September with a change to who is eligible to apply.

The Chancellor said: “When the scheme was launched, the newly self-employed couldn’t qualify because they hadn’t all filed a 2019/20 tax return. But as the tax return deadline has now passed, I can announce today that, provided they filed a tax return by midnight last night, over 600,000 more people, many of whom only became self-employed last year, can now claim the fourth and fifth grants.”

Universal credit

During his address, Mr Sunak also announced that the £20 weekly increase for Universal Credit will continue for a further six months and the minimum wage will increase to £8.91 an hour from April.

Stamp duty

On stamp duty, Mr Sunak said: “I can announce today the £500,000 nil rate band will not end on March 31, it will end on June 30. Then, to smooth the transition back to normal, the nil rate band will be £250,000, double its standard level, until the end of September – and we will only return to the usual level of £125,000 from October 1.”

Mr Sunak also announced a new 'restart grant' that will be provided in April to help businesses reopen.

The stamp duty cut will continue until the end of June, with the nil rate band set at £250,000.

In his address, Mr Sunak told MPs: "I can announce today the £500,000 nil rate band will not end on March 31, it will end on June 30. Then, to smooth the transition back to normal, the nil rate band will be £250,000, double its standard level, until the end of September – and we will only return to the usual level of £125,000 from October 1."

Jobs

Mr Sunak pledged £126 million to create 40,000 additional traineeships in England and offer cash incentives for employers who take on an apprentice.

Cash grants for employers will double to £3,000.

Under the new scheme, firms will have access to digital and management services. The digital offer will create a new online platform to offer free advice on technology that will help businesses to save time, reduce costs, and reach more customers, the Treasury said.

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