What we know so far about Rishi Sunak Budget plans

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak will set out the government’s tax and spending plans on Wednesday afternoon, and rumours are rife about what giveaways and cuts lie in wait.

However, he has also announced a number of his plans ahead of the speech. Here is what we know already:

1. More help for workers

As the pandemic has upended many people’s working lives, the furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, or furlough scheme, applies across the UK. It covers up to 80% of an employee’s salary for the hours they can’t work, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

As Covid restrictions start to lift, employers will have to help cover part of the cost of their furloughed workers’ salaries. They already have to pay pension and National Insurance contributions.

Employees will continue to receive 80% of their salary for hours not worked until the scheme ends.

More support will also be announced for self-employed workers on Wednesday, with more than 600,000 people, many of them newly self-employed last year, now eligible for cash grants.

2. Money to help locals ‘buy their boozer’

Pubs and other hospitality venues have been battered by the pandemic, so the chancellor has promised a £150m pot to help communities take over local “boozers” at threat of closure.

Under the fund, which will open in the summer, community groups will be able to bid for up to £250,000 of matched-funding to help them to buy local pubs to run as community-owned businesses.

In “exceptional cases” up to £1m will be available to community groups to buy their local sports club.

Mr Sunak said it would help keep such venues at “the heart and soul of our local towns and villages”.

3. Free ‘MBA style’ management training for firms

Tens of thousands of small businesses will be offered free MBA-style management training to help them boost productivity growth, the Chancellor has said.

Under the so called “Help to Grow” scheme, the government will plough £520m into free online courses from top business schools.

It will also fund 50% discounts on new productivity-enhancing software.

4. Cash for cricket and football

Mr Sunak will announce a £300m recovery package for sport, another sector battered by social distancing restrictions.

The self professed cricket fan says his beloved sport will get a “significant chunk” of this cash, after last season was played behind closed doors. Other sports such as tennis and horse racing will also benefit.

He has also promised £25m of new funding to support grassroots football – enough to build around 700 new pitches across the UK, as well as cash to kick-start a 2030 UK and Ireland World Cup bid.

5. £400m for the arts

The arts sector has struggled since last March, as gig venues, museums and cinemas have been forced to close. Many who work in the sector are freelancers who have fallen through the cracks of support for the self-employed.

In the Budget the chancellor is expected to put an extra £300m into the £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund, with England’s museums and cultural bodies also receiving £90m to keep going until they can open their doors on 17 May at the earliest.

There will also be £18.8m for community cultural projects, and £77m for similar initiatives in the devolved nations.

6. Support to help businesses reopen

The chancellor is to unveil details of a £5bn grant scheme to help struggling High Street shops and hospitality firms in England reopen after lockdown.

The chancellor said the grants would be worth as much as £18,000 per firm, but some business groups say the money is not enough.

Nearly 700,000 shops, restaurants, hotels, hair salons, gyms and other businesses in England, will be eligible for the so-called “restart grants”, to be distributed directly to firms by local authorities from April. It will replace the current monthly grant system.

7. More money for vaccinations

The UK’s Covid vaccination rollout will receive an extra £1.65bn in the Budget to help it reach its target of offering a first dose to every adult by 31 July.

Over 20 million people in the UK have had a first dose and NHS England is now asking 60 to 63-year-olds to book jabs.

Rishi Sunak said it was “essential we maintain this momentum”.

8. Bringing back 95% mortgages

The Budget will also include a mortgage guarantee scheme to help people with small deposits get on the property ladder.

The government will offer incentives to lenders, bringing back 95% mortgages which have “virtually disappeared” during the pandemic, the Treasury says.

The new scheme is not restricted to first-time buyers or new-build homes, but there will be a £600,000 limit.

It is based on the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme, which closed to new loans at the end of 2016.

The Treasury said the scheme “reinvigorated the market for high loan-to-value lending after the 2008 financial crisis”.

But housing charity Shelter said that scheme increased house prices by 1.4%.

9. An ‘elite’ visa for high-skilled workers

The Chancellor will announced a “fast-track” visa scheme to help start-up and rapidly growing tech firms source talent from overseas.

Applicants will no longer need to obtain a “third-party endorsement” or be backed by a sponsor organisation, simplifying the current rules and making it easier for researchers, engineers and scientists to come to the UK.

10. A £126m boost for traineeships

Mr Sunak will plough an extra £126m into the traineeship scheme, which sees the government pay employers who give young people work placements.

Currently the government pays firms £2,000 per trainee, but this will rise to £3,000. He’ll also create a new “flexi-job” apprenticeship in England that will enable apprentices to work with a number of different employers in one sector.