Budget: At-a-glance guide to the main points

Money, business, growth, pound


March 2020 Budget at-a-glance

Coronavirus stimulus package

  • Firms with fewer than 250 staff will be refunded for sick pay payments for up to 14 days.
  • Small firms to have access “business interruption” loans of up to £1.2m.
  • Business rates in England will be abolished for firms in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors with a rateable value below £51,000.
  • A £5bn emergency response fund to support the NHS and other public services.
  • Statutory sick pay to be paid to all those who are advised to self-isolate, even if they have not presented with symptoms.
  • Self-employed workers who are not eligible for sick pay will be able to claim contributory Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
  • The ESA benefit will be available from day one, not after a week as now.
  • £500m hardship fund for councils to help vulnerable people.

Regional investment

  • Extra £4.2bn boost for transport funding for the devolved city regions.
  • A new civil service hub in the North of England employing 750 people.
  • An extra £640m for Scotland, £360m for Wales, and £210m for Northern Ireland.
  • Treasury to open new offices in Wales and Scotland.

Personal taxation

  • National Insurance Contributions tax threshold to rise from £8,632 to £9,500 – saving 500,000 employees just over £100 a year.
  • 5% VAT on women’s sanitary products, known as the tampon tax, to be scrapped.
  • Tax paid on the pensions of high earners, including doctors, to be recalculated.

Public finances and growth

  • Economy predicted to grow by 1.1% this year, revised down from 1.4% a year ago, the slowest growth since 2009.
  • Growth forecast to rebound to 1.8% in 2021-22, 1.5% in 2022-23 and 1.3% in 2023-24.
  • Inflation forecast of 1.4% this year, increasing to 1.8% in 2021-2022.
  • Public sector net borrowing set to rise this year to 2.1% of GDP and to 2.4% and 2.8% in subsequent years.
  • Government is set to borrow an additional £96.6bn by 2023-2024.
  • Debt as a percentage of GDP forecast to be lower at end of current Parliament than now.

Transport, infrastructure and housing

  • More than £600bn for roads, rail, broadband and housing by the middle of 2025.
  • There will be £27bn for motorways and other key roads, including new tunnel for the A303 near Stonehenge.
  • £2.5bn will be made available to fix potholes and resurface roads over five years.
  • Further education colleges will get £1.5bn in new investment in their buildings.
  • £650m package to tackle homelessness, providing an extra 6,000 places for rough sleepers.
  • Stamp duty surcharge for foreign buyers of UK properties to be levied at 2% from April 2021.
  • New £1bn fund to remove all unsafe combustible cladding from all public and private housing higher than 18 metres.

Digital, science and business

  • High street business rates system to be reviewed later this year.
  • Entrepreneurs’ Relief to be retained, but lifetime allowance will be reduced from £10m to £1m.
  • £5bn to get gigabit-capable broadband into the hardest-to-reach places.
  • Science Institute in Weybridge, Surrey to get a £1.4bn funding boost.
  • An extra £900m for research into nuclear fusion, space and electric vehicles.
  • VAT on digital publications, including newspapers, books and academic journals to be scrapped from December.

Energy and environment

Plastic packaging tax to come into force from April 2022. Manufacturers and importers whose products have less than 30% recyclable material will be charged £200 per tonne.

Subsidies for fuel used in off-road vehicles – known as red diesel – will be scrapped for most sectors in two years’ time.

Red diesel subsidies will remain for farmers and rail operators.

£120m in emergency relief for communities affected by this winter’s flooding and £200m for flood resilience.

Total investment in flood defences to be doubled to £5.2bn over next five years.

£640m fund to protect natural habitats, including 30,000 hectares of new trees.

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