There was a time, not so long ago, that the details of the Chancellor’s Budget statement were closely guarded secrets. And even if certain policies were rumoured, they weren’t confirmed by the government.
That’s all changed under the current government, however. And ahead of Rishi Sunak’s Budget statement today (3 March), we’ve already had a number of policies revealed and confirmed.
Here’s what we know so far.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng yesterday confirmed that the furlough scheme will be extended to September, with employers expected to contribute 10% of workers’ pay from July and 20% from August.
The scheme was due to come to a close at the end of April, but the extension means it will have been in place for 18 months.
There is also some solace for self-employed workers who were previously excluded from support because they hadn’t been self-employed long enough to file a tax return. With 2019/20 tax returns now having been filed, those people will be eligible to claim support.
Announced earlier this week, there will be a £5 billion fund for High Street businesses in England, worth around £18,000 per business across restaurants, retailers, hairdressers, gyms and more. The grants will be distributed by local authorities from April.
Thousands of small businesses will be offered free ‘MBA-style management’ training courses in a bid to boost productivity. The ‘Help to Grow’ scheme will pump £520 million into online courses with leading business schools.
The scheme will also provide a 50% discount on software designed to boost productivity.
There will also be an additional £126m of funding into the traineeship scheme. Currently, the government pays employers £2,000 for each young person they provide a training placement to, but this will be increased to £3,000. The Chancellor is also set to announce the creation of ‘flexi-job’ apprenticeships, which will enable apprentices to take placements with a number of different employees within a sector.
The rules around securing visas for high-skilled workers will be changed. Currently, applicants are required to source a third-party endorsement but this will be changed to allow start-ups and tech businesses “fast track” hiring the top talent from overseas.