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Coronavirus support measures

Turning to the Government’s Coronavirus support measures, the Chancellor confirmed, as had been trailed, that the furlough scheme – the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – would be extended to the end of September 2021, continuing to pay furloughed workers 80 per cent of their usual wages, capped at £2,500 a month.

However, unlike the scheme as it currently operates, he said employers will have to contribute 10 per cent of a furloughed worker’s wages in July and 20 per cent in August and September.

Moving to support for self-employed individuals, the Chancellor said that 600,000 newly self-employed people would be eligible for the fourth round of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) as people who have submitted a 2019-20 Self-Assessment tax return will now be eligible.

The fourth round of the scheme will once again provide grants worth up to 80 per cent of trading profits, capped at £7,500. Applications will open in late April.

He then announced a fifth grant worth three months of average profits. This will continue to pay grants at 80 per cent of usual trading profits capped at £7,500 for people whose turnover has fallen by 30 per cent, but it will reduce to 30 per cent of usual trading profits capped at £2,850 for people whose turnover has fallen by less than that.

The Chancellor also announced the extension of the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit for people who have lost their jobs for the next six months.

Moving to direct support for businesses, he announced the launch of the Recovery Loan Scheme from 6 April this year to replace the Government’s existing Coronavirus loan schemes. The Recovery Loan Scheme will allow any business of any size to apply for a loan of between £25,000 and £10 million backed by an 80 per cent Government guarantee.

He said that new Restart Grants will also be launched in April, making one-off payments of up to £6,000 per premises for non-essential retail businesses and up to £18,000 for businesses in the hospitality sector and others that are reopening later.

The Chancellor confirmed that the current 100 per cent business rates relief for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will continue for three months to 30 June 2021. There will then be a 66 per cent reduction in business rates for these businesses until 31 March 2022, capped at £2 million for businesses required to close on 5 January 2021 and capped at £105,000 for other businesses.

Staying with the hospitality sector, he said that the VAT reduction from 20 per cent to five per cent on many goods and services in the hospitality and leisure sectors will now be extended from 31 March 2021 to 30 September 2021. It will then move to an interim rate of 12.5 per cent until it reverts to 20 per cent in April 2022.

The Chancellor also said that the Government will double incentive payments for employers in all sectors to take on apprentices to £3,000.

Moving to the housing sector and the property market, the Chancellor said the £500,000 Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) nil-rate band will remain in place for a further three months until 30 June 2021. It will then fall to £250,000 – twice its normal rate – until the end of September.

He then moved on to announce a new mortgage guarantee scheme, beginning in April 2021. The scheme will offer a Government guarantee to lending offering 95 per cent mortgages on homes worth up to £600,000.

The Chancellor said that the measures set out in the Budget amount to a further £65 billion of Coronavirus support, bringing the total since the start of the crisis to £407 billion.