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.
It is clear that Scotland faces a choice of two futures — the long-term damage of Brexit and Tory austerity cuts at Westminster, or the opportunity to protect our place in Europe and build a strong, fair and green recovery as an independent country.
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.”
Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:
“Rishi Sunak promised to be ‘open and honest’ with the British public. But buried in the small print of his Budget is a cut to frontline NHS services that will increase pressure on staff and do nothing for patients stuck on growing waiting lists.
This Budget papered over the cracks rather than rebuilding the foundations of our country.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
“Today’s Budget totally lacked an ambitious vision for building a better future for all who have suffered as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic..
This has been undoubtedly the toughest year that London and the UK has faced since World War Two and while there is now some light at the end of the tunnel, Londoners and businesses will need financial support for months to come.
The Government owes it to the more than 120,000 people who have lost their lives during the pandemic, to the NHS and key workers who have done so much to keep us safe and moving, and to everyone who has followed the rules and put their lives on hold — to build a better and fairer country after the pandemic. Yet there was a distinct lack of good news today for the vast number of key workers earning low wages who got us through this crisis.
Unfortunately, it is clear that there is no ambitious planning from the Government for our recovery. We simply cannot afford to return to the entrenched unemployment of the 1980s which destroyed so many lives and communities. There was too little from the Chancellor today to kickstart the economy, create new jobs and protect existing ones or to provide the level of support our businesses and least well-off will need for many months to come.
I fully support levelling up the rest of the country, but that should not mean levelling down London and its communities. Today’s budget takes London’s recovery for granted and without support from the government that recovery cannot be guaranteed.”
Christine Jardine MP, Treasury Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, said:
“Small businesses across the country remain on the brink, while millions of workers remain excluded from Government support altogether.
Small businesses were looking to the Chancellor to give them a lifeline — something to give them hope of getting through the next few months. Instead for many, the Chancellors paltry proposals for small business support will have crushed those hopes.
From beauticians to launderettes, florists to café owners — small businesses in our communities and the millions who depend on them are left looking over a cliff-edge. The Chancellor had the opportunity to save them today, but instead he fell far short of what is needed.
We needed a plan today which was ambitious for the small businesses which are the heart of our local communities and set us on the road towards a strong and green economy of the future”.
Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chair of the City of London Corporation, said:
“We welcome the Chancellor’s renewed commitment to protect jobs and support the economy at this difficult time. This extraordinary support will provide struggling businesses with a lifeline as they look forward to restrictions being eased and emerging from the pandemic.
As the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities in the UK, the City Corporation also welcomes the Chancellor’s announcement of a package for museums, theatres and galleries to help them reopen. Culture and the arts will play a vital role in the post-Covid recovery of the City, the capital, and the UK.
However, businesses also need certainty and we urgently need our economy to thrive to help pay for the vast amount of support being provided at this time. This is why the City hopes the Government will provide some clarity on when office workers can return to COVID-secure workplaces as soon as possible.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said:
“The Chancellor has done exactly what we asked of him, and set out clear and wide-ranging support to help see West Midlands businesses and the self-employed through to the end of the roadmap and into the recovery stage.
I am particularly pleased to see our asks for the West Midlands responded to so well, with significant cash for reopening old railway stations and lines, reviving town and city centres, and making the most of HS2 with the cash to get the incredibly ambitious plans for UK Central in Solihull off the ground.
The pandemic has really hurt the West Midlands economy, but with the measures announced today, alongside our local plans, I am confident we will be able to bounce back quickly and start getting people back into work.”
Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said:
“Tackling the economic challenges ahead is a huge task. It is councils who know their local areas best and must be able to lead efforts to rebuild and level up our economy, get people back into work and create new hope for communities. It is good that councils have been placed at the heart of the delivery of new funds such as the Levelling Up Fund and Community Renewal Fund. We look forward to working with Government on the detail but are concerned by the prospect of competitive bidding processes at a time when councils want to be fully focused on protecting communities and businesses from the impact of the pandemic.”
Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson, Ben Lake MP said:
“This is a Budget of half measures and quick fixes — a Budget that does not begin to measure up to the scale of the challenges we face.
The decision to delay the cut to Universal Credit instead of securing incomes in the long-term by making it permanent will lead to 26,000 families in Wales not being able to afford essentials in six months’ time.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of self-employed remain excluded, despite the welcome extension of the self-employed scheme. After acknowledging the errors of the past year by including those with 2019–20 tax returns, the Government must now provide compensation to those deprived of support for an entire year due to the Treasury’s decisions.
Today the Chancellor pledged to be honest with the public, but failed to mention that only 5% of the funding announced for Wales today is new money. And behind the rhetoric on ‘levelling up’, this is a Budget that centralises decision-making in Westminster.
While European regional funding was distributed according to need and spent according to devolved priorities, replacement funding will be a fraction of previous commitments and allocated competitively. ‘Levelling up’ should lead to a fair distribution of decision-making powers across the nations and regions of the UK. But instead, a ‘Treasury-knows-best’ attitude prevails once again.
If we are to achieve our net zero commitments, retrofitting more than a hundred thousand homes, expanding and electrifying the rail network, and providing Gigabit broadband connection throughout Wales are essential. Yet the restrictive borrowing cap placed on the Welsh Government means it cannot pursue these priorities without the Treasury’s say so. Today was the Chancellor’s golden opportunity to right that wrong — but undermining devolution was clearly more important.”
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee Chair, Darren Jones, said:
“The Chancellor’s extension of furlough, the business rate holiday, and on lower VAT rates is welcome. However, the Chancellor appears to have missed the opportunity in today’s Budget to fill alarming gaps in support which continue to unfairly affect certain workers and businesses, including women who have recently taken parental leave and a significant number of self-employed workers who continue to be ignored.
There was little in this Budget to speak to the foundational issues changing the British economy, from post-Brexit transition to our net zero transition. The jobs, skills and training programmes are welcome, but their scale does not seem to match the unemployment challenge faced in our country. The issue of finding a resolution to the issue of commercial rents also seems to have been kicked down the road, risking the prospects of many ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses.
The announcement of a National Infrastructure Bank is welcome but the sad reality is that climate change and net-zero were barely mentioned in today’s Budget and major policies such as the Green Homes Grant seem to have been cancelled altogether.
The Budget appears to signal a rejection by the Chancellor of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. In the year of the UK’s COP26 Presidency, this does not deliver the domestic leadership necessary to make the climate summit a success nor does it signal the required ambition on decarbonisation and green jobs needed in the decades ahead.
We welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to tackling fraud in the packages of financial support provided through Covid but once again call on the Government to be transparent about which companies received what financial support so that full scrutiny can take place in Parliament.”
Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said:
“An extension of six months will come as a welcome relief to families who were otherwise facing a substantial cut in their income at the end of this month. But by failing to commit to making the £20 increase in Universal Credit permanent — or even maintaining it for the next 12 months — the Chancellor has missed the perfect chance to guarantee some financial security to families who have faced a stressful year struggling to get by. It will be very hard to justify cutting benefits by £20 per week in September, at the very moment the furlough scheme is due to end and many jobs are, sadly, likely to be lost.
The Government must now use this time to come up with a long-term plan to make sure the benefits system can properly support people right the way through the next stage of our economic recovery. That must also include help for people on legacy benefits — including many disabled people and carers — who have received no additional support to help them through the pandemic. In this Budget, the Government has once again ignored their needs. It cannot be acceptable that people are excluded from support simply because — through no fault of their own — they are claiming older benefits.”
DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said:
“It is welcome that the Treasury has listened to the case pressed by this Committee for additional support for our outstanding arts, creative and sporting sectors that have been hit so hard by the impact of the pandemic.
However it is greatly disappointing that the Government appears not to have heard our call to give its backing to cancellation insurance schemes for festivals which would provide a safety net should organisers need to cancel plans and enable more to go ahead with confidence this summer.”
Business and industry responses
Tony Danker, CBI Director-General:
“This Budget succeeds strongly in protecting the economy now and kickstarting a recovery. It leaves open the question of UK competitiveness long term.
The Chancellor has gone above and beyond to protect UK businesses and people’s livelihoods through the crisis and get firms spending.
Thousands of firms will be relieved to receive support to finish the job and get through the coming months. The Budget also has a clear eye to the future; to ensure finances are sustainable, while building confidence and investment in a lasting recovery.
The Chancellor has taken a welcome, broad view on how to stimulate growth from the new Infrastructure Bank, to Help to Grow and incentives to take on apprentices.
The super deduction should be a real catalyst for firms to greenlight investment decisions. The boldness of the Chancellor on this measure is to be admired.
But moving Corporation Tax to 25% in one leap will cause a sharp intake of breath for many businesses and sends a worrying signal to those planning to invest in the UK.
The government must now have a laser-like focus on the UK’s competitive position in the round, including fundamental reform of the unfair Business Rates system. The UK must remain attractive for every type of business, from the innovation, high-growth UK homegrown firm to the global firms investing in the UK. We look forward to working with the government to achieve this.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“The chancellor is making a dangerous bet on the economy bouncing back on its own. He is gambling with the recovery when he should have acted to create jobs.
We are in the worst recession of our lifetimes. But while President Biden acts big, the chancellor thinks small. We saw nothing like the investment we need to stop unemployment and level-up the UK with millions of new green jobs.
Freeports don’t create jobs — and around the world they allow freeloading employers to dodge taxes.
And after a year of key workers going above and beyond, it’s an insult that the chancellor announced no new support for our hard-pressed NHS or public services and no guarantee of a decent pay rise for all our public sector key workers.
The last-minute extension of furlough, while welcome, ends too soon, which will risk jobs and businesses. Cutting universal credit in October will risk family incomes. And failing to fix decent sick pay for all risks more infections and another lockdown.”
Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer, TheCityUK, said:
“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.”
Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of London First, said:
“The Chancellor has provided a shot in the arm to businesses with a big package of support which will mean many more will be able to stagger to the finish line of lockdown ending.
Firms will breathe a huge sigh of relief at the extension of furlough, business rates and VAT relief, which will help keep them afloat and more people in jobs. While there will be disappointment at the big rise in Corporation Tax, delaying this to 2023 is right to avoid choking the recovery before it’s started.
With the end of lockdown now in sight, we need crystal clear messaging around the safe return to workplaces with the Mayor and Government speaking with one voice. Given the central role London will play in supporting the UK recovery, there needs to be a plan to ensure the transport network is properly funded and a PR blitz to get people back into the city — starting with workers, domestic tourists and overseas visitors.”
Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of Make UK, said:
“Given the difficult circumstances facing the Chancellor Industry will welcome the certainty and clarity he has provided about the route forward. This statement pursues a positive and fair middle road which balances the short-term need to avoid squeezing the recovery before it has started, whilst avoiding any artificial boost given the inevitable strong bounceback once the economy begins to open up.
In particular Industry will welcome the extension of the furlough scheme and a clear recognition that we urgently need an investment-led recovery. The promise to consult on further changes to R&D is also welcome and Government must now move urgently to implement this so further policies to boost levels can be brought forward.
We must now seize the opportunity provided by new technologies and the drive towards net zero to set out a longer term vision for the economy. This must include a long-term Industrial Strategy which looks ahead twenty years and involves a laser like focus on innovation based on a partnership between the public and private sectors, together with our world class science base.”
Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, said:
“There’s much to welcome in this Budget for business communities across the UK. The Chancellor has listened and acted on our calls for immediate support to help struggling businesses reach the finish line of this gruelling marathon and to begin their recovery. Extensions to furlough, business rates relief and VAT reductions give firms a fighting chance not only to restart, but also to rebuild.
We particularly welcome the massive ‘super deduction’ investment incentive that the Chancellor has put in place for the next two years. This responds directly to our call to encourage those businesses that can to invest and grow.
While no business will relish paying higher rates of Corporation Tax in future, the impact of the Chancellor’s tough decision is blunted by the big new incentives for investment, lower rates for the smallest firms, and the extension of Coronavirus support measures in the short term.
This Budget provides reassurance to businesses, provided that they are able to restart and rebuild according to the Government’s road map. If firms face unexpected bumps in the road, the Chancellor must be prepared to take action until the economy is firing on all cylinders again.”
Warren Kenny, GMB Acting General Secretary, said:
“Warm words don’t pay the bills. The Chancellor might get some likes on Instagram, but he won’t be getting any love from public service workers who will feel like this Budget is a kick in the teeth after everything they’ve done for the country throughout this pandemic.
Not a penny extra will go to the pockets of our key workers, it’s a national scandal.
The lack of action on the super spreader policy of poverty Statutory Sick Pay rates is simply an abrogation of duty.
You can’t talk about helping the poorest and leave this unchanged. Those who can’t afford to self-isolate and pay the bills won’t do so, they will feel they have no choice but to risk going to work rather than get into debt.
We keep being told we’re not out of the woods yet — I agree — so it’s shocking that this Budget did nothing to address this.
Once again, workers in critical industries such as social care, aviation, cash and transit were crying out for the specific support and investment that they desperately need.
Once again, all this Government could offer was platitudes and a failure of leadership.”
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary said:
“The short-term sticking plasters that the Chancellor announced in today’s Budget go nowhere near far enough. They don’t tackle the fundamental issues that the retail industry already faced before the pandemic, let alone give retailers a fighting chance of mounting a recovery.
Extending furlough by six months, short-term business rates reductions and one-off grants do not allow retailers the opportunity to plan their recovery out of the pandemic and secure jobs. Huge issues like expensive rents and rates, along with unfair taxation continue not to be addressed by the Government. Today’s Budget is yet another missed opportunity.
Demanding that businesses make a 10% contribution to the Jobs Retention Scheme in July and then 20% in August is a big leap for non-essential retailers at a time when, even on the most optimistic estimates, many will have only recently reopened and have major losses to recoup. It will encourage staff lay-offs. Also expecting retail to start paying a third of business rates at the start of July will be a big ask, so soon after reopening. The announcement of these two additional costs to retailers could be the burdens that push many out of business or to cut jobs.
We needed to hear, from the Chancellor, immediate action to reduce rents and rates for high street retailers, alongside levelling the playing field with an online sales tax. The coronavirus pandemic has pushed many retailers and retail workers to breaking point, so we needed government action to be equally significant.
Low-paid workers also needed more reassurance and support. The extension of the Universal Credit £20 uplift is the least he could do, but it should have been done sooner, made permanent and extended to all in-work benefits. A recent Usdaw survey shockingly found that 57% of workers claiming Universal Credit are struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills. It is unacceptable that workers are struggling to heat their homes.
Usdaw launched a retail recovery plan that provides necessary support for the industry and shopworkers. After today, we fear the Chancellor and the Government simply is not listening.”
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:
“Rishi Sunak has today failed to vaccinate the economy from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
His refusal to lift the pay cap on civil servants and other public sector workers, who have kept the country going during the pandemic, is a disgrace and economically illiterate.
To aid any recovery you must raise living standards and protect the most vulnerable.
Whilst the extension of the Universal Credit uplift is welcome, the social security system is not fit for purpose and must be fundamentally altered to take care of people who have been left behind.
To reduce inequality, stimulate growth and fund first class public services, we need a progressive taxation regime which ensures big business pays their fair share.
It is clear the government will not listen to public sector workers, on pay and therefore, a united trade union movement must be prepared to take action together in order for our members to see pay justice.”
BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton said:
“The Chancellor said not one single word about aviation in his budget. I am utterly dismayed that he can ignore this industry which is clearly going to be the last to recover from Covid.
While there was sector-specific money for non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, gyms, personal care, arts, culture and the housing sector, there was not one word of backing for our vital sector.
This is a massive slap in the face for the industry that has supported repatriations, brought in vital supplies and faced never ending changes to restrictions and rules and a total shutdown as a result of Government policy.
Mr Sunak has totally abandoned aviation and failed to acknowledge just how difficult times are for the sector right now. This budget could push many airlines further in to a death spiral and cost even more jobs.
We must now look to the vital Global Taskforce report on April the 12th to give our aviation industry certainty and security and help us to plan a way though this crisis.”
Think tank reactions
Torsten Bell, Chief Executive of the Resolution Foundation, said:
“The Chancellor has gone bigger than expected on both the giveaways and takeaways of this Budget — with firms in the front line in both respects.
Welcome extensions of crisis support until the end of economic restrictions this summer are to be followed by a major new stimulus policy to drive business investment up in the coming years.
The scale of that giveaway was only matched by the size of the Chancellor’s takeaway from firms by the middle of this decade, with the largest increase in corporation tax since the early 1970s being the centre piece of the largest tax raising Budget since 1993.
With taxes rising to their highest share of GDP since the 1960s the Chancellor has chosen to prioritise the Conservative Party’s credibility for caring about the public finances over their attachment to low taxes. Whether that decision will stand the test of time remains to be seen.
The Chancellor had far less to say about supporting households and their consumption in the recovery, gambling that higher savings built up during the crisis will outweigh the drag on consumption from rising unemployment and falling incomes this Autumn.
This is a risk, as is the idea that public service spending can be cut by another £4bn in the years ahead compared to previous plans, when the pandemic has seen pressures build for more spending not less.”
SMF Director, James Kirkup, 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.”
Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards said:
“It is striking that a plan and support for the recovery of health and social care services are absent in this Budget.
Recovery from the pandemic will take several years, not only for the economy, but for the NHS to work through waiting lists, boost capacity and adjust to the ongoing demands of Covid-19 on the health service. An increase in the NHS budget for the next financial year is likely to be needed as well as honesty that patients are going to end up waiting longer for some time.
As hospitals slowed down planned care to deal with the pandemic, a spiralling backlog of care will not clear itself with a hard slog ahead for NHS staff. The temporary extra funding set out in the spending review last autumn was only a start in what is required to support recovery for the NHS. The chancellor will need to go further in his pledge to give the NHS what it needs to deal with the long term aftershock of the pandemic.
It is disappointing that there was no lifeline for our struggling social care sector hit hard by the pandemic. A promised white paper is still yet to surface. Structural reform is now as important as reassurances on short-term funding and support, given the fragility of the provider market and the substantial challenges the sector continues to face.
The pandemic has asked much of NHS and care staff without respite, so those workers who hoped to hear news of any meaningful pay increase in recognition of those efforts will be disappointed today.”
Carys Roberts, IPPR Executive Director, said:
“The chancellor is gambling on a highly optimistic scenario from the OBR, which presumes that the pandemic has done so little permanent damage to the economy that it can simply bounce back.
This rosy view ignores the huge underlying problems we face — 40 per cent of households have lost savings and won’t return to spending as before. Some 600,000 firms don’t have enough cash to survive the next three months, and are already loaded up with debt.
All in all, the scenario used by the chancellor amounts to betting on a ‘trickle down’ recovery led by high earners and big businesses. This would be a huge mistake.
He has delivered only around half the £190 billion stimulus we think is needed to ensure the fairest and strongest recovery possible — equivalent to 8.6 per cent of the UK economy, and close to the 8.9 per cent package planned by the US president. He should instead be boosting it like Biden.
We welcome the extensions of job and business support schemes which we have been calling for, and which serve as planks to prevent economic hardship. But there was a striking lack of new support for public services, little public investment and no lasting boost to welfare for those hit hardest by the crisis.
The result is the risk of a lopsided recovery, where higher earners and big businesses bounce back quickly, but low earners and small businesses will feel the dire consequences of the pandemic for years to come.”
David Robinson, Director of Post-16 and Skills at the Education Policy Institute (EPI) said:
“The additional funding committed by the Chancellor for traineeships is welcome, given this skills development programme has been effective in helping young people to progress into employment and further learning. It is important that the government does much more to make young people aware of this programme and the opportunities that it can bring.
The new ‘flexi-job’ apprenticeship may prove positive for young people, allowing them to accrue important skills and experiences in a number of roles within one sector. It will be important to closely scrutinise the details of this new scheme, including how it will be implemented.
Proposals to increase employer subsidies for both adult and younger apprentices will no doubt open up opportunities for many people, but given we know that it is apprenticeships and employment opportunities for younger people that have been disappearing the fastest, they should be receiving a far greater share of these subsidies.
While it is encouraging to see an emphasis on further education in today’s Budget, there are still a number of critical issues that need addressing. Funding for further education remains historically low and educational inequalities in the 16–19 phase are substantial. We need to see a more enduring financial settlement for the further education sector, together with a Student Premium that provides more targeted support to the most disadvantaged.”
Robert Colvile, CPS Director, said:
“The combination of business rate reductions, investment incentives and other measures should help business and the economy rebound powerfully in the next few years — and we are pleased to see our proposal for free ports at the heart of the Chancellor’s speech. But there is the danger of a cliff edge later on as support is withdrawn and taxes increased — or that businesses will anticipate higher taxes and fail to invest.
Britain still has a huge problem with its long-term growth rates — as the latest OBR figures show only too clearly — and the tax burden is set to increase inexorably. We appreciate that the Chancellor needs to balance the books. But the great challenge facing the Government is not just to put the economy back on an even keel in the short term, but put in place permanent pro-growth measures that raise growth rates for good.”
Mark Littlewood, Director General at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:
“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.”
Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, said:
“Rishi Sunak says this Budget protects jobs, but we know that redundancies are already rising at a faster rate than the 2008 financial crisis. Two in five private renters are now relying on benefits and 715,000 households don’t get enough Universal Credit to cover their rent.
This Budget has done nothing to help those without jobs protect their homes. Today the Chancellor ignored the very real rent debt crisis and without government action renters will have no protection from eviction and homelessness. We need a Covid Rent Debt Fund to clear arrears and an extension to the eviction ban as long as restrictions are in place.
Instead, the Chancellor has announced 95% mortgages, which is completely out of touch when 60% of private renters had no savings at the start of the pandemic and another 18% have had to use savings to pay their rent in the past year.
The government tried a mortgage guarantee scheme eight years ago and all it did was push up house prices, while another half a million households have got stuck renting over the same period. Stoking demand with more lending and extending the stamp duty holiday will not fix the underlying shortage of homes available to buy.”
Helen Barnard, Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said:
“It is unacceptable that the Chancellor has decided to cut the incomes of millions of families by £1040-a-year in six months’ time. He said this Budget would “meet the moment” but this decision creates a perfect storm for the end of this year, with the main rate of unemployment support cut to its lowest level in real terms since 1990 just as furlough ends and job losses are expected to peak. This makes no sense and will pull hundreds of thousands more people into poverty as we head into winter.
Even before Coronavirus, incomes were falling fastest for people with the lowest incomes due in large part to benefit cuts. Ministers know this short extension offers little relief or reassurance to the millions of families, both in and out-of-work, for whom this £20-a-week is helping to stay afloat. This cut to Universal Credit will increase hardship when the economic crisis is far from over and undermine our national road to recovery.
It is not too late for the Chancellor to do the right thing: announce an extension of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit for at least the next year. It is also totally indefensible that people who are sick, disabled or carers claiming legacy benefits continue to be excluded from this vital support. The Government must urgently right this injustice.”
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“There were some wins for taxpayers today, but it doesn’t gloss over the fact that this was a tax-raising budget.
The chancellor is helping to rescue struggling sectors but £30 billion worth of tax increases will hit hard-pressed households and businesses already under the highest tax burden in 70 years.
Big tax hikes risk choking off the recovery Rishi wants before it has even started, so let’s hope that other measures in the budget help to boost jobs, spur investment and ultimately revive the economy.”
Tanya Steele, Chief Executive at WWF, said:
“The Chancellor is right — when crises come, we need to be ready to act. But we also need to act now to prevent future crises caused by catastrophic climate change, by prioritising green jobs and green investment.
There are measures in this Budget that are potentially game changing — such as expanding the remit of the Bank of England to include environmental sustainability, which is a significant step towards aligning our financial system with climate and nature goals.
But if we are serious about building our resilience against future crises, we must make sure that government investment isn’t contributing to them — which is why we need a Net Zero test for overall government spending, and to ensure that all new policies, such as Freeports or business tax deductions, are in line with our climate goals, not undermining them.”
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said:
“It is very disappointing to see the housing support announced today is limited to home buyers. Hundreds of thousands of renters in arrears are facing eviction in a matter of weeks and must not be forgotten. We also desperately need more social housing, while a lack of further investment in housing benefit will push more people into poverty and put them at risk of homelessness.
We welcome the extensions to the Universal Credit top-up and the Job Retention Scheme, but the UK government must go further. With the UK facing up to the economic impact of the pandemic and unemployment on the rise, we need to see an ambitious approach to preventing and ending homelessness. A safe and secure home provides dignity but also a vital foundation to those seeking work, so preventing homelessness is essential in supporting our national recovery.
Last year the UK government’s bold emergency action showed homelessness is not inevitable, but that progress is at risk of being undone if further action is not taken now.”
Rebecca Newsom, Head of Politics for Greenpeace UK, said:
“For all the talk of a green recovery, this Budget suggests the Chancellor has failed to clock the urgency of the climate emergency. A National Infrastructure Bank and Green Bonds could be steps forward, but without a guarantee they will provide sustained investment to decarbonise buildings, transport and industry, they are unlikely to do much to advance climate action.
Meanwhile the government’s shambolic handling of the Green Homes Grant and ambitions for the City on ‘high quality’ offsetting are both steps in the opposite direction, leaving the UK with weakened authority on the world stage ahead of November’s climate conference. Successive budgets that approach the climate and nature emergency in a half-hearted manner have left us running out of time and credibility.”
David Sinclair, Director of the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC), commented:
“We won’t Build Back Better or deliver the vision for a ‘future economy’ without recognising the economic and social challenges and opportunities which come from demographic change. Our workforce is getting older, our consumers are getting older, our carers and volunteers are getting older.
Yet the Budget has missed an opportunity to recognise the enormity of the policy challenges which come from us living increasingly longer lives.
Longevity could offer a huge economic return for UK PLC. By 2040, over-50s could be spending 63p in every pound. And supporting people to spend or work for longer could add 2% to UK GDP every year.
We won’t Build Back Better without investing in health systems and focussing more of that spend on preventative health. Without this focus, Government won’t be able to deliver its ambitious goal of ensuring people can enjoy at least 5 extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035.
It is great news that Kickstart has funded jobs for a quarter of a million younger people. But older workers have also been hit hard by the pandemic. The Government must find a way of delivering a similar scheme for those older workers made redundant due to COVID-19.”
Sarah Atkinson, CEO of the Social Mobility Foundation, said:
“If the Chancellor is serious about levelling up and ensuring an even recovery, he must focus not only on tax and infrastructure, but on people and skills — especially for younger generations as unemployment among the under 25s continues to rise at an alarming rate.
While today’s apprenticeship incentives and £126m boost for traineeships in England is welcome, the interventions remain too short-sighted. With the Chancellor’s Kickstart scheme shown to be lagging on uptake and due to end in December, we urge government to set out its long-term plan to invest in young peoples’ education and skills for the future.”
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK and Co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance said:
“We are deeply disappointed that no immediate or longer term support for social care, so badly battered by the pandemic, was announced in the Budget. Experts have been warning about the sustainability of many smaller care companies for some time and unfortunately the Chancellor spurned this opportunity to give them a helping hand. The result may well be an upsurge in closures over the next few months, putting more stress and strain on older and disabled people & their unpaid carers, who have already endured so much.
We and many others will also be seeking assurances that the lack of any mention of longer term care refinancing and reform does not reflect an intention on the part of this Government to renege on its repeated promise to ‘fix’ care by bringing forward concrete proposals later in the year.”