Chancellor Rishi Sunak warns of hardship ahead
“It was fortunate for her that the possession of money occasioned him so much employment next day in the way of eating and drinking… he had neither time nor inclination to be very critical...” (Charles Dickens – Oliver Twist)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a jobs retention bonus, and whilst £1,000 per furloughed worker retained until January is welcome, another layer of complexity in the furlough scheme is not. When does the worker need to have been furloughed, and when do they need to have been brought back?
There is a kickstart scheme for employers taking on 16 to 24-year olds. But do they need to have been on Universal Credit to qualify? And was a previous version of this scheme not dismissed as “one of the most ineffective job schemes there's been"? Is the pay so low that these employee's won't qualify for sick pay?
There is also £1,000 for employers taking on trainees, and £2,000 for apprentices. Is that enough to make an employer go down that route unless they intended to do so anyway? Are there age limits? What manner of training or apprenticeship is required? And with a different Scottish system, how it works is as yet unclear.
For England there is to be a green homes grant where homeowners and landlords can apply for vouchers to cover 2/3rds of the cost of up to £5,000 of making homes more energy efficient. That’s £10,000 for poorer families. How many phone calls will I get about replacement windows now? And we will have to wait to see how the money is allocated in Scotland.
There is to be a stamp duty cut in England. Again, can Kate Forbes do anything other than follow in Scotland?
VAT is to be cut – but only for the hospitality sector. VAT on food, accommodation and attractions (but not alcohol) will be reduced from 20% to 5% between next Wednesday 15 July 2020 (or is it today?) to 12 January 2021.
And meals eaten in participating restaurants in August will be subsidised by up to £10 (50%) on Mondays to Wednesdays. Eat out to help out, he called it. No takeaways? No drinks? No summer school dinner subsidies, Mr Bumble? From next week businesses which want to participate can register on another new website – oh great. 'We need a real deal not a meal deal'said York MP Rachael Maskell.
What the Chancellor didn't announce was any help for the forgotten freelancers and self-employed. Can I have some more, please? No, you are not getting any at all.
And there he was – gone. The devil will, as always, be in the detail. More to follow, no doubt.
“Nobody controverted the prophetic gentleman's opinion. An animated discussion took place. Oliver was ordered into instant confinement; and a bill was next morning pasted on the outside of the gate, offering a reward of five pounds to anybody who would take Oliver Twist off the hands of the parish. In other words, five pounds and Oliver Twist were offered to any man or woman who wanted an apprentice to any trade, business, or calling.” Charles Dickens – Oliver Twist