Income tax freeze and furlough extended: 9 takeaways from today's budget

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the Ho

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the House of Commons to deliver his Budget. Picture date: Wednesday March 3, 2021. - Credit: PA

The chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has announced a swathe of new measures in today’s budget – here are nine quick takeaways for East Anglia. 

Furlough extended 

Furlough will be extended until the end of September, with no changes in place for employers. 

However, from July, businesses will be asked for a 10pc contribution, rising to 20pc in August and September. 

Mr Sunak said the Government was “proud” of the furlough scheme. 

Income tax frozen until 2026 

The threshold for paying the basic rate will rise to £12,570 next year, while the higher-rate threshold will be £50,270. 

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However, both rates will then be frozen until 2026. 

Universal credit uplift extended 

The £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit will continue for a further six months, “well beyond the end of the national lockdown,” Mr Sunak said. 

Living wage increase  

The national living wage will be increased to £8.91 from April. 

Help for house buyers 

Mr Sunak announced two measures to help home buyers. 

The nil-rate stamp duty band will stay at £500,000 until June, rather than March as originally planned. 

Secondly, the government will guarantee 95pc mortgages for first-time buyers, meaning a home buyer will only need to find a 5pc deposit. 

Mr Sunak said this was “a chance for those who can’t afford a large deposit to buy their own home”. 

Business support measures 

The chancellor announced £5bn of grants for retail, hospitality and leisure. Retail businesses will receive grants of up to £6,000 per premises while hospitality and leisure businesses, which will stay shut for longer, will get up to £18,000. 

"That’s £5bn of new grants; on top of the £20bn we’ve already provided; taking our total direct cash support for business to £25bn," he said. 

The business rates holiday will be extended through to the end of June. 

The 5pc VAT rate will be extended for a further six months, to September 30, followed by a rate of 12.5pc for a further six months. 

The standard rate will not return until April next year. 

Mr Sunak also announced extra cash for businesses taking on apprentices, with the government’s contribution doubling to £3,000 

Self-employment help 

Around 600,000 more people will be eligible for government help as access to grants widened.  

Support will also continue until September. 

Arts, leisure, culture and a world cup bid 

Sports, culture and arts organisations will get £300m to help them reopen.  

A £150m fund will be set up to allow communities to take ownership of pubs, theatres, shops or sports clubs at risk of closure. 

Sports including cricket tennis and horse racing will benefit from a £300m recovery package, while grassroots football will benefit from £25m funding support. 

The chancellor also promised to back the joint UK and Ireland bid to host the 2030 World Cup. 

Alcohol and fuel 

A planned increase on alcohol and fuel has been cancelled to “keep the cost of living low”.