He announced a raft of new policies during his Budget speech, which will affect all Britons in one way or another - and has received a mix of reactions.
Tax burden to stay high in ‘new phase of UK economic history’
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, said “we are in a new phase of UK economic history”, after Mr Sunak set out plans to raise extra funds from business and personal taxes.
The IFS said the Budget’s forecast of raising an extra £29 billion by 2025-26 was “big by recent standards”.
Isabel Stockton, a research economist at the IFS, said: “A healthy economic recovery, combined with a substantial tax increase, would be enough to allow the government to cover its day-to-day spending with revenues by the middle of the decade, borrowing only to invest.
“This is one definition of ‘balancing the books’, but this success would be at risk if the recovery falters, or tight spending plans – or for that matter the large tax rises announced today – prove undeliverable.”
'Above and beyond' praise for chancellor from business leaders
Tony Danker, director-general of the CBI, said the Budget had succeeded in protecting the economy and kickstarting a recovery, leaving open the question of competitiveness in the long term. He said: “The chancellor has gone above and beyond to protect UK businesses and people’s livelihoods through the crisis and get firms spending. “Thousands of firms will be relieved to receive support to finish the job and get through the coming months.
"The Budget also has a clear eye to the future; to ensure finances are sustainable, while building confidence and investment in a lasting recovery. “But moving Corporation Tax to 25% in one leap will cause a sharp intake of breath for many businesses and sends a worrying signal to those planning to invest in the UK.”
Jonathan Geldart, director-general of the Institute of Directors, said the Budget delivered a solid platform for many businesses to relaunch as the economy reopens. “The extension to the furlough scheme will provide a vital cushion to support jobs as restrictions unwind and firms begin the costly process of rescaling,” he said. “Restart grants and ongoing business rates relief give a cashflow boost to many firms that will struggle to make full productive use of their properties as restrictions linger. “Widening income support for the self-employed is a step forward, but the chancellor missed a trick by not providing grants for company directors, who continue to be left out in the cold.”
‘Disappointing’ lack of measures to address social care pressures
Care groups, MPs and charities have criticised the absence of measures to address growing social care pressures in this year’s budget, saying “disappointment rings heavy”.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt questioned the lack of help for social care, adding there was “little hope” for the social care sector which had been “bruised and demoralised after most devastating year in its history”. “Understand money is difficult to commit at this stage, but they desperately need to know a plan is coming,” he tweeted. Sam Monaghan, chief executive of the charitable care provider MHA, said older people and those who care for them were “forgotten and still underfunded”. He tweeted: “Are those of us in social care surprised by the lack of funding laid out in today’s budget? “I think not – but disappointment rings heavy.”
Budget stops ‘way short’ of action needed on climate emergency
Mr Sunak only dwelt briefly on environmental measures in the 51-minute speech, in which he also announced fuel duty would be frozen again.Responding to the Budget speech, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "This Budget should have included a major green stimulus, bringing forward billions of pounds of investment to create new jobs and new green infrastructure.”
Instead, Sir Keir said, the government was trying to build a new coal mine which might not even work for British steel, referring to plans for a mine in Cumbria amid warnings the coking coal it produces may not be usable in UK steelworks.
“If anything sums up this government’s commitment to a green recovery and jobs for the future it’s building a coal mine we can’t even use,” he said.
Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said the Budget was disappointing for climate action and rural communities.
“What we need is for the government to help create green and sustainable jobs up and down the country that help real people, while also making the UK economy greener,” he said.
But he warned there was “nothing green” about jobs created by a new coal mine.
Watch the full Budget, delivered by Rishi Sunak: