Rishi Sunak delivered his first Budget as UK Chancellor on Wednesday.
The budget included announcements on tax cuts, investments into transport, research and science, and announced measures to help the UK respond to the Coronavirus outbreak. You can recap the key points here – below is a look at how political leaders, businesses and more have responded to the Budget and its announcements.
Focusing first on the environment, the chair of the Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd responding to the announcement of a new £5.2bn for flood deferences, said;
“This is hugely significant. As the climate emergency increases flood risk, this funding will allow us to invest in infrastructure and nature-based solutions so that otherwise vulnerable communities can both have better protection against flooding and be more resilient when it happens.”
However, the Budget has been criticised by environmental campaigners, criticising new road-building plans. Rebbecca Newsom from Greenpeace said “The Chancellor has completely missed the opportunity to address the climate emergency”, while Mike Childs of Friends of the Earth said, “This Budget contains a massive road-building programme which completely destroys any pretence of UK government leadership ahead of this years’ crucial climate summit.”
Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn said that the budget was “an admission of failure”, saying the UK was in a far worse position to cope with the economic hits of coronavirus because of austerity over the last decade. The outgoing Labour leader said;
“Today’s budget was billed as a turning point, a chance to deliver, in particular on the promises made to working-class communities during the general election. But it doesn’t come close”
The acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey said;
“This budget reveals the UK economy was alarmingly weak even before coronavirus. The government is desperate to blame anyone or anything but the reality is that it’s the Conservatives’ Brexit which is costing Britain’s economy dearly.”
In business, there was some positive reaction, with business rates to be scrapped for certain smaller firms. National Charman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Mike Cherry said;
“Suspending business rates for small high street firms is a huge bonus for our town centres and high streets. Together with extra cash for those that already qualify for small business relief, this shows a real commitment to supporting small businesses at the heart of communities.
To help the UK respond to the Coronvarius outbreak, there are to be ‘business interruption’ loans available for some businesses and new measures on statutory sick pay. However, Jonathan Lilley, employment lawyer at Blaser Mills Law has warned that while there are some positive signs for some businesses, there must be planning taking place, especially on the issue of the Coronavirus. Mr Liley said;
“It is essential that employers think ahead. They must plan carefully for the potential that at least a significant number of their workforce may have difficulty getting to their normal place of work, either through illness or, more likely, the effects of self-isolation and/or the knock-on effects of possible school closures etc.
“Employers should conduct staff surveys to stay informed and determine who might be at risk, and should assess employees’ ability to work remotely by taking into consideration their IT setup at home and checking the home-working policies already in place, if any. They need to encourage a good flow of communication both ways, which will demonstrate to staff that they are engaged and prepared to meet the challenges that coronavirus presents, not just to health but to the stability and function of their business. The key to managing this issue is to keep the business running as much as possible, and limit the incidence of sick pay as much as is practical (and all of the possible disputes that may arise), welcome though these measures are.”
On Wednesday afternoon, just hours after the Budget, the World Health Organization declared that the Coronavirus outbreak is now a pandemic. For our latest coverage on the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak, click here.