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Budget includes extended support to assist UK business in Covid recovery

04 March 2021

FM industry organisations and leaders are continuing to assess the details of yesterday’s Budget revealed by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his address to Parliament.

Although this includes record levels of peacetime borrowing, expectations for the UK economy to return to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of next year and lower levels of unemployment than previously predicted indicate a more positive outcome over the months ahead.

Mr Sunak has confirmed the furlough scheme will now run until September and this is no doubt a factor in the reduced unemployment percentage predictions.

The figure had been predicted to reach 11.9% but is now expected to reach a maximum of 6.5% next year.

Annual growth of 4% is expected this year, followed by 7.3% for the next 12 months for the UK economy.

Although extended furlough support will be appreciated by many businesses, those benefiting from the scheme will be expected to contribute 10% in July, followed by 20% in August and September.

An increase in minimum wage rates to £8.91 from April will also require companies to set aside funds, while additionally preparing for higher levels of business rates.

Currently set at 19%, this is seen by many as a low level, particularly when compared to other countries in Western Europe, and set to rise to 25% over the next two years.

However, the 19% level will be maintained for smaller companies and this is predicted to assist approximately 1.5m organisations.

Further assistance for companies is provided in the raising of apprenticeship grants to £3,000, combined with re-opening grants of up to £6,000 per premises to assist with the post-pandemic period.

Markets reacted positively to the initial details of the Budget yesterday, resulting in a rise in share prices for sectors such as airline, hotel and leisure, housebuilders and financial service providers.

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