Business leaders welcome Chancellor’s measures to boost economy
- Credit: PA
The Chancellor’s magic money tree shows no signs of wilting following a mini-budget which saw tens of billions shelled out to support the UK economy.
Rishi Sunak’s most startling announcement was the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ campaign – which will aim to boost the hospitality sector with the government picking up half the bill for meals eaten out.
He explained: “Meals eaten at any participating business, Monday to Wednesday, will be 50pc off, up to a maximum discount of £10 per head for everyone, including children. Businesses will need to register, and can do so through a simple website, open next Monday.
“Each week in August, businesses can then claim the money back, with the funds in their bank account within five working days.”
But the spending spree continued, with taxes slashed and cash splashed on training, apprenticeships and employer incentives.
He revealed to the House of Commons the maturity of the Job Retention Scheme to the Jobs Retention Bonus, which will see employers rewarded for bringing back furloughed workers and continuing their employment.
Employers will be given £1,000 per person who is still in employment from November through to January.
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Training and apprenticeships for those between the ages of 16 and 24 has also been handed some support.
Mr Sunak said employers will be paid £1,000 to take on trainees and up to £2,000 to hire young apprentices.
He also outlined a kickstart scheme which will directly pay employers to create “decent” new jobs for any 16 to 24-year-old at risk of long-term unemployment.
Employers will need to provide training and support to find a permanent job and in return the government will pay the young people’s wages for six months.
On top of this came moves to shift the economy greener, with the Chancellor confirming a £2 billion “green homes grant” to help homeowners and landlords with vouchers to make their properties more energy efficient.
Those looking to get on the property ladder or move up it have also been given a boost thanks to reductions in stamp duty, which will not be paid on the first £500,000 of the property sale.
These moves are all vital to restart the economy – which Mr Sunak revealed this week shrunk by 25pc during the pandemic.
He said: “The speed of what was happening to our economy, the scale that it was happening, demanded an approach that required us to take a broad brush approach and that was the way we could get help to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.”
The news has been welcomed by business leaders across the region.
Andy Walker, head of policy at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “Today’s announcement is another welcome step in the road to recovery for many businesses. The reduction in VAT for the hospitality and tourism sector will help boost business and consumer confidence and lead to an upturn in spending and footfall. We are also pleased to see that the Government has listened to the chamber network and included help and support for young people who are facing a difficult time in the jobs market.
“We would however argue that older workers must not be overlooked, especially as some will have already lost their jobs or may be made redundant in the coming months. Hopefully the increase in funding and support to DWP will help those most in need”.
These sentiments were echoed by the New Anglia LEP.
Chief executive Chris Starkie said: “The visitor economy supports 11.3pc of this region’s workforce and more than 7,000 businesses, so the reduction in VAT for businesses in hospitality and tourism and the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ discount are very welcome. As part of the Norfolk and Suffolk Economic Recovery Restart Plan, we will soon be publishing a plan for our visitor economy which will set out a package of measures designed to help businesses reopen safely and take advantage of the summer season.
“Clean growth also stands to play a vitally important role in the future success of our local area, so I am also pleased at the announcement of a £3bn green investment package, including grants to help people make their homes more energy efficient.”