Budget 2020: Sunak dedicates £30bn fiscal stimulus to tackle coronavirus outbreak

Rishi Sunak has used his first Budget to announce the total value of his fiscal stimulus dedicated to tackling the coronavirus outbreak is £30bn.

The Chancellor described it as ‘one of the most comprehensive responses of any Government’ around the world to the outbreak.

Sunak announced that statutory sick pay will be available to anyone advised to self-isolate, and that for those who do not qualify for sick pay, it would be easier to get benefits. For self-employed workers, Sunak suggested they would be able to claim benefits from day one, and that temporarily, the minimum income level will be removed from universal credit – with relaxed rules aimed at amounting to a £500m boost to the welfare system.

The Chancellor also announced that £2bn will be allocated to cover firms that lose out because staff are off sick, and that this will apply to firms that employ fewer than 250 staff.

Housing

The Chancellor also announced the Government would be extending the Affordable Homes Programme with a new, multi-year settlement of £12bn. Sunak revealed nearly £1.1bn of allocations from the Housing Infrastructure Fund would be made available to build 70,000 new homes in high demand areas across the country.

He indicated this will be funded by the promised stamp duty surcharge on non-UK residents – worth 2% – which would be coming in from April 2021.

Sunak added that comprehensive reforms to planning will be set out tomorrow by Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick.

Pensions

Sunak announced he is changing the rules on pensions that have led to some doctors deciding not to work – because it is not worth their while given the loss in pension they experience – and revealed the tapered annual allowance will be raised by £90,000. This means that from 2020-21 the threshold income will be £200,000.

He also confirmed that the Government is increasing the threshold for when National Insurance becomes payable to £9,500 – which would save 31 million people across the UK up to £104 a year. This means those earning under £9,500 will pay no National Insurance whatsoever.

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