Wells MP James Heappey has welcomed the Spring budget, which was set out today (Wednesday) by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, calling it ‘packed with support’ for the industries and residents hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rt Hon Rishi Sunak announced a raft of support measures would be extended as the UK eases out of the national lockdown, as well as billions of pounds of support for specific sectors, including hospitality and tourism.
Newly-launched restart grants will help businesses alongside the roadmap announced by the Prime Minister last week, with non-essential retail – which is one of the first sectors set to open – receiving grants of up to £6,000. Hospitality and leisure businesses (which includes hairdressers and gyms) - which are set to open later - will receive grants of up to £18,000. Mr Heappey met with members of the Federation of Small Businesses last week, who made it clear the impact of the lost revenue during lockdown was one of their biggest concerns.
It was also announced the 100 per cent business rates holiday will continue until June, as well as the 5 per cent reduced rate of VAT which will continue until September.
Mr Heappey said: “Here in Somerset, there has been a huge hole left by the lack of tourism and visitors to this great county and I know how difficult it has been for businesses across the patch.
“I am sure they will feel much more positive with a roadmap out of lockdown, that they will be able to welcome a summer trade and, of course, the extension of furlough, self-employed grants, restart grants, and more investment in the culture sector will result in better financial certainty.
“But I know from my constituency meetings that lost revenue during the lockdown was a big issue for a number of sectors, including the likes of beauty and hairdressing, so I am pleased they will be supported before they reopen.
“It is right that support is targeted and I particularly welcome the business rates holiday extension and extension to VAT reduction, which has also been welcomed by industry experts.
“While we know there are still tough days ahead, the OBR has given us reasons for optimism with a lower rate of unemployment predicted than first thought and growth set to increase for the next few years to get us back to pre-pandemic levels, six months earlier than first predicted.
“I hope the announcements have given my constituents cause for hope that there will be good progress over the next few months, both with heading back to normality through a world-beating vaccination programme and being able to start thriving again business wise.”
The Office of Budget Responsibility says the UK economy will grow by 4% this year 7.3% in 2022 1.7% in 2023 1.6% in 2024 1.7% in 2025.