Sara’s Blog: The 2021 Budget and the West Midlands Expo

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I am relieved, as I am sure that you are, that Chancellor, Rishi Sunak seems to have heeded the advice from business leaders and extend furlough and support for the self-employed, extend business rates relief and VAT reductions and give our region’s firms the chance not only to restart, but also to rebuild.

The furlough scheme has been a lifeline for companies and extension gives firms much more clarity on the way ahead and will allow many to plan with greater optimism and confidence as they look to restart and rebuild over the coming months.

The hardest hit sectors such as hospitality and retail are set to benefit from further three-month business rate relief and VAT held at 5 percent as they look forward to reopening in the coming weeks.

While no business will relish paying higher rates of Corporation Tax in future, the impact of the Chancellor’s tough decision is blunted by the big new incentives for investment, lower rates for the smallest firms, and the extension of Coronavirus support measures in the short term.

This Budget provides reassurance to businesses, if they can restart and rebuild according to the Government’s road map. If firms face unexpected bumps in the road, the Chancellor must be prepared to act until the economy is firing on all cylinders again.

Key budget announcements include:

• The furlough scheme has been extended until the end of September. Furloughed employees will continue to receive 80 percent of their salary for hours not worked.

• Self-employed workers will be able to claim a fourth grant from the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme worth 80 percent of three months’ trading profits at up to £7,500.

• Corporation tax will rise to 25 percent from April 2023. However, there will be protection for those businesses with profits of less than £50,000.

• Business rates relief for the hardest hit sectors, such as retail and hospitality has been extended for three months.

• Businesses investing in new equipment can offset all the cost (with an additional 30 percent off) in a bid to encourage more firms to invest in technology.

• Hospitality and tourism firms will benefit from VAT being held at 5 percent. Other measures announced in the Budget include:

• £5bn grant scheme to help English high-street shops and hospitality businesses.

• An additional £400m for the arts sector – with £300m added to the existing Culture Recovery Fund, £90m for England’s museums and cultural bodies and £77m for similar initiatives in the devolved nations.

• £1.65bn towards the UK’s Covid vaccination rollout to help the country to achieve its aim of offering a first dose to every adult by the end of July.

• A ‘fast-track’ visa scheme to help start-up and rapidly growing tech firms source talent from overseas.

• An extra £126m into the traineeship scheme, in which the government pay employers who give young people work placements.

• The ‘Help to Grow’ scheme in which thousands of small businesses will be offered free MBA-style management training.

• A £150m pot to help communities take over a local pub or sports club at threat of closure.

Staffordshire Chambers is excited to be part of the West Midlands Expo, a virtual event taking place from 22nd to 26th March. The event is sponsored by Access2Finance.

Throughout the week, each Chamber in the West Midlands will be hosting a day to allow visitors and exhibitors to discover more about their county and its businesses.

Our day is Friday 26th March, when we will be hosting webinars on a range of topics including the end of furlough, UK and EU trade, HR, and wellbeing.

Businesses also have the opportunity of booking a virtual exhibition stand during the week where you can invite customers and potential customers to view your business and find out more about your products and services. To book free tickets for the Expo click here: http://bit.ly/3v062Vc

For all other enquiries including booking a virtual stand, email Laura Hodgkiss: laura.hodgkiss@staffordshirechambers.co.uk

If you want to talk to us about any business issues, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email: info@staffordshirechambers.co.uk

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