Budget 2021: Reactions to Rishi Sunak’s Budget statement


Political responses

SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said:

“The Tories are threatening Scotland’s recovery with a return to austerity cuts, an extreme Brexit, and a Budget that completely failed to deliver the meaningful change and investment needed to build a fairer society.

The UK has suffered the worst economic slump of any major economy, UK unemployment is rising, and millions of families have seen their incomes slashed — but the Chancellor has added to this misery by imposing a public sector pay freeze, cliff edge cuts to Universal Credit, and tax rises for millions of workers.

Covid has exposed the deep inequalities that exist under the broken Westminster system but the Tory Budget failed to address them. A decade of Westminster cuts have pushed 4.2million children into poverty but there were no measures to reverse the growing Tory child poverty crisis, no plan to raise statutory sick pay or introduce a Real Living Wage.

Millions of people have been left behind by the Tory government throughout the pandemic — and this budget failed to plug the gaps for the 3million excluded and failed to deliver a commitment that full 80% furlough support will be available for as long as the devolved nations need it.

Boris Johnson’s extreme Brexit has already cost Scotland’s economy £3.94billion and is projected to cost every person the equivalent of £1,600 in added costs, red tape and barriers to trade with Europe but while Ireland is getting €1.05billion from the EU’s Brexit mitigation fund — Scotland isn’t getting a single penny from the UK government.

The issue at the election in May will be this: who has the right to decide what sort of country we should be after the pandemic — the people of Scotland or Boris Johnson? With both votes SNP we can put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands — not Boris Johnson’s.”

Business and industry responses

Tony Danker, CBI Director-General:

“The Chancellor’s Budget is rightly focused on supporting the economy through the pandemic and boosting long-term growth and productivity. The focus on innovation, investment and infrastructure across the whole of the UK reflects many of the priorities our industry has long called for.

Our industry is already the biggest contributor to Britain’s public finances. However, the UK cannot forget it exists in a highly competitive global landscape. Changes to corporation tax need to be matched with a commitment to streamlining and simplifying the UK’s tax code, and we welcome the review of the bank surcharge which has long placed UK headquartered firms at a disadvantage to those in New York and in Asian centres. We look forward to seeing further detail on this proposal.

Our industry will welcome the measures outlined today to put the UK at the forefront of the green finance revolution and to make sure we can find and train the highly skilled talent we need from within the UK and internationally. Our ecosystem will also welcome the commitment to act swiftly on the recommendations of the Hill and Kalifa reviews, which are needed to make the UK the best place in the world to start, grow and list the companies of the future.”

Think tank reactions

Torsten Bell, Chief Executive of the Resolution Foundation, said:

“Extending the furlough scheme to September is prudent, but ministers are missing an opportunity to use furlough to support workers’ skills. The Government is supporting millions of workers who are away from work. They should be offered a much bigger, better remote-learning skills and training package, allowing them to use some of that time away from work to develop new skills.

Skills Toolkit, the government’s main online training offer, has a budget of less than £1 million a year. That should be dramatically increased with the expanded scheme targeted at furloughed workers.”

“After months of damage inflicted by the pandemic and lockdown measures, the Chancellor had the opportunity to deliver a pro-business, pro-growth Budget by lowering and simplifying taxes and slashing unnecessary regulations.

Instead, we received a barrage of short-term costly measures which risk depressing economic growth, reducing employment, hampering entrepreneurialism, and ultimately harming the long-term economic recovery. Dialling up taxes was a mistake, and our economic growth will be less impressive as a result.”

Charity responses

Tanya Steele, Chief Executive at WWF, said: