Sigh of relief in Lancashire as furlough, business rates holiday and reduced VAT rate to continue

Lancashire workers, businesses and tourism chiefs today breathed a sigh of relief as the Chancellor unveiled a raft of measures to "protect the jobs and livelihhoods of the British people".

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 2:29 pm
Rachel McQueen of Marketing Lancashire
Rachel McQueen of Marketing Lancashire

Rishi Sunak confirmed the extension of the furlough scheme until September.

And the business rates holiday and five per cent VAT rate enjoyed by hospitality and tourism businesses will also continue, allowing Lancashire businesses time to recover once copronavirus restrictions start to ease.

There was also good news for homebuyers and workers as the stamp duty holiday was extended, along with help for the newly self-employed.

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Rishi Sunak

Lancashire business groups had called for long-term support from the Government to help the county's battered economy recover, with pandemic restrictions not due to be fully lifted until at least late June.

Mr Sunak agreed, but he did, however, announce a corporation tax rise on profits - but not until 2023.

Rachel McQueen, Chief Executive, Marketing Lancashire, said: " We really welcome the support that has been announced in today's budget, particularly that aimed directly at the tourism and hospitality industry, and we look forward to seeing the detail of the additional grant funding to support their re-opening.

"Plus of course we welcome the extension of furlough, reduced VAT and business rates that we have collectively been calling for.

"Now, we can begin to look in earnest at making sure that Lancashire is a must-visit destination this summer, and to focus on extending the season into the autumn, winter and beyond.

"Rest assured we will continue to support and lobby for our hospitality and tourism businesses until they can all open safely."

Jane Parry – managing partner of Lancashire-based accountants PM+M said: "Balancing being supportive but appearing tough on debt is a tricky balance and today’s Budget threw up no real surprises.

"The announcement that the furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September in an attempt to protect jobs as the UK’s fragile economy emerges from the ashes of the COVID-19 emergency is hugely welcome.

"It gives businesses and workers across the country clarity for the three months after the government expects that all restrictions on our daily lives will be removed in June. The Treasury has had to think on its feet throughout the pandemic, with various extensions on support being announced, but hopefully this timetable is fixed and we all now have an end date to work to."

She added: "The news that an additional 600,000 of the recently self-employed will also now be eligible for state financial help is welcome and will go some way to mitigate accusations that too many people have missed out on support since the pandemic began.

"However, it’s not a panacea for everyone as small company directors who are paid in dividends still slip through the net which remains a real concern.

"Other measures like the extensions of the £20 a week boost to universal credit and the stamp duty holiday, the increase in the national minimum wage, £3,000 for each new apprentice hired between the 1st April to 30th September, the support for the long-term unemployed through the Kickstart and Restart schemes are all positive steps."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer attacked the Budget in the Commons, saying it was "papering over the cracks", with no mention of the NHS or the care sector.

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