As ever with the Budget, the devil is in the detail. Greater scrutiny and analysis will be undertaken over the coming days, but initial thoughts are that it should not have taken Coronavirus to push the Government into promising funds for the NHS.
- Grand statements have been made such as ‘for those on zero hours contracts we’ll make it easier and quicker to claim benefits’ – but there is no clear idea how.
- Those who need to claim Universal Credit will still need to wait 5 weeks for their payment.
- There is little detail of what will people receive if they don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay or contributions based Employment Support Allowance and cannot wait 5 weeks for their Universal Credit payment.
- Off-payroll working rules commonly known as IR35 is going ahead following the review, despite widespread protests from contractors, an issue I have raised in Parliament. This means many contractors will face paying increased taxes but without full employment rights.
- He has announced £360 million extra funding for Wales but fails to mention the Treasury has just clawed back £200 million in recent weeks based on the Barnett Formula recalculation.
- Whilst he announced support for businesses there were no real announcements to support the third sector which is so crucial to many peoples lives.
- The announced infrastructure investment is undoubtedly good news, we need to see where they are and how it will benefit the whole nation. They could have gone further with commitments to steel procurement for projects such as HS2. The Government have again missed an opportunity to tackle some of the issues affecting our manufacturing industry. Only yesterday in a parliamentary debate we reminded the Government of the industry asks on issues such as energy prices. In UK Steel’s response they say ‘the two million tonnes of steel projected for HS2 alone would deliver a £1.5 billion boost to the UK economy and safeguard at least 2,000 steel jobs, if UK produced steel is used’ They went on to say ‘The Government must set clear objectives for steel procurement in these major projects, as happens in the United States, and an important first step would be signing the UK Steel Charter.’