Before you read this, I'd like to warn you that there's a long list of good stuff below!
Yesterday's Budget was both a robust and all-encompassing response to the challenges of coronavirus and a long term plan to reduce the cost of living, cut taxes and invest in our infrastructure.
The measures announced include:
✅ The NHS to get ALL the extra resources it needs to cope with Coronavirus - including a £5bn Initial COVID-19 Response Fund
✅ Statutory Sick Pay will apply for self-isolation, and will apply from day 1 (not day 4 as is usually the case)
✅ Statutory Sick Pay for up to 14 days will be refunded to SMEs by the Government
✅ Those advised to self-isolate will be able to get an alternative sick note specifically for Coronavirus through NHS 111 (rather than having to visit a doctor)
✅ Those not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay can claim Universal Credit or enhanced Employment Support Allowance on day 1 of sickness (rather than day 8 as is usually the case)
✅ The Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be relaxed for those with COVID-19 or those self-isolating
✅ A £500m hardship fund for local councils to support economically vulnerable people
This is in amongst a raft of other great measures announced, which will reduce taxes on the lowest paid whilst greatly investing in our infrastructure and public services. Some of my particular highlights:
✅ £5bn to roll out gigabit broadband - with huge benefits to rural areas!
✅ £1bn for the Shared Rural Network to massively improve 4G coverage in rural areas
✅ National Living Wage to increase by 6.2% from April
✅ Increasing the National Insurance threshold to £9,500 (meaning a tax cut for 31 million people!)
✅ Business Rates removed altogether this year for small businesses (rateable values under £51k) and this 100% rate relief being expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors
✅ A £5,000 Business Rates discount for pubs (up from £1,000)
✅ A new Small Business grant of £3,000 for our 700,000 smallest businesses
✅ Fuel Duty frozen once again, keeping the cost of living down for local residents who rely on their cars for work, study, and family life
✅ Duty on beer, cider, wine, and spirits also frozen
✅ Reducing the frequency of reassessments for Personal Independence Payment to reduce anxiety for claimants
✅ Doubling spending on our flood defences
✅ Record investment in our railways and roads
✅ A £2.5bn pothole fund to fix our roads
Just some of the many measures in this Budget to help us manage the impact of COVID-19 and then get on with our longer term ambition of levelling up our great country and delivering for Mansfield!