What to look out for in the budget today

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak arriving at BBC Broadcasting House in central London for his

The chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce his budget this afternoon. - Credit: PA

Suffolk and north Essex is awaiting the most eagerly anticipated peacetime Budget in history.

Rishi Sunak will today lay out his plan for how he will steer the economy through the summer and beyond while dealing with the fallout of the pandemic. 

One of the key things for Suffolk and north Essex will be whether the chancellor greenlights the Freeport East bid. The organisers say the freeport would create 13,500 jobs and secure up to £650million of investment for the region. 

Hospitality and leisure bosses will be particularly keen to hear about extensions to VAT cuts to inspire more spending as businesses begin to reopen. 

A number of policies have already been announced with Westminster confirming last night that furlough had been extended until September. 

The chancellor is expected to set to outline a three-point plan to support people through the coming months, rebuild the economy and fix the ravaged public finances in the wake of the pandemic.

In his statement to the Commons on Wednesday, he will build on the £280 billion package of support already given by the Treasury during the crisis.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has protected more than 11 million jobs since its inception, but under plans to taper the government’s contribution, employers will be expected to pay 10pc towards the hours their staff do not work in July.

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Their contribution will increase to 20% in August and September, as the economy reopens, but employees will continue to receive 80% of their salary for hours not worked until the scheme ends. It had been due to close at the end of April.

Further support for self-employed workers will also be announced, with more than 600,000 people – many of whom became self-employed in 2019/20 – now eligible for cash grants.

A fourth grant from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be available to claim from April, worth 80pc of three months’ average trading profits up to £7,500, while the Chancellor will set out details of a fifth grant.

The Treasury said that hundreds of thousands more people will be eligible for the grants this time, as tax return data for 2019/20 is now available. Mr Sunak faced criticism that newly self-employed people were unable to benefit from the scheme previously.

Ahead of the Budget, he said: “Our Covid support schemes have been a lifeline to millions, protecting jobs and incomes across the UK.

“There’s now light at the end of the tunnel with a roadmap for reopening, so it’s only right that we continue to help business and individuals through the challenging months ahead – and beyond.”

The chancellor will pledge to use the government’s full “fiscal firepower” to protect jobs and livelihoods, vowing to do “whatever it takes” to help businesses and people.

He is expected to tell MPs: “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.”