Sick pay if you self-isolate or get coronavirus among the big announcements in today’s budget.
Brexit and elections mean it’s been a while (17 months!) since we had a full budget, but Coronavirus and the reshuffle last month mean this Budget was always going to be one low on announcements that’ll impact our day-to-day finances.
Even so today the new Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered some useful things for know, especially relating to sick pay and Covid-19 and support measures for the high street – though it’s not clear how it’s all going to be paid for.
Here’s are the key things that could make a difference to you.
Coronavirus and sick pay
The government will cover small businesses (less than 250 employees) to fund Statutory Sick Pay for staff who are forced to self-isolate due to coronavirus for 14 days.
This SSP will be available from day one rather than the standard day four. Bear in mind here that SSP is £94.25 a week (though your employer could choose to pay you more) and you are only eligible if you earn at least £118 a week.
Those who are self-employed or are low earners and are forced to self-isolate they’ll be able to apply for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. They can do this online rather than visit a jobcentre and get advance payments upfront rather than wait for the usual five weeks.
There will also be a £500 million hardship fund available to local authorities to use, largely to fund Council Tax relief.
And the NHS will have support “whatever it costs” in the fight against the spread of the virus.
We’ve known about this for a while. The threshold where you start paying NI will increase from £8,632 to £9,500 from April 6th 2020.
This means a typical employee will be better off by £104 a year, or £78 if you’re self-employed.
There will be no increase on duty (i.e. tax) on fuel, beer, spirits, cider and wine.
VAT is going to be dropped on digital books, magazines or newspapers from December 2020. Printed publications are already VAT-free.
And another we’ve known about for a while is the axing of the 0.5% VAT on female sanitary products, aka the tampon tax.
There was very little to boost savings, which will be made worse by today’s interest rate cut, but the allowance for a Junior ISA will increase to £9,000 – more than double the current £4,368.
Wages & benefits
Something already announced was that the National Living Wage – which isn’t actually anywhere near to a real living wage – will increase in April from £8.21 an hour to £8.72. New though was the ambition to extend this to 21-year olds by 2024.
The benefits freeze will also end meaning from April payments will increase by 1,7%.
A breathing space will be introduced from early 2021 that’ll mean people with unmanageable debts can hae 60-days where interest and fees are frozen. Again, this has already been announced but it’s included in the Budget papers.
The high street
Business rates abolished this year for businesses with rateable value of less than £51,000. So shops, cinemas, restaurants and music venues will benefit, along with museums, galleries, theatres, gyms and more. That’s estimated by the government to be worth £25,000 a year to each small business.
Pubs will also get an increased business rates discount this year, growing from £1,000 off to £5,000 off.
Motoring and travel
£500 million to make sure more rapid charging hubs are built so drivers are never more than 30 miles away from a charge point for their car.
There’s also going to be a fund to fill 50 million potholes and money towards road and rail improvements.