The government revealed its March budget this week, here’s what it means for Brighton pubs, venues and hospitality, the self employed, workers, and generally, what the hell happened.
The world is in the bin. The Covid pandemic has changed the very fabric of our lives and taken an absolutely massive toll on people and businesses alike.
On 3 March Rishi Sunak revealed the government’s March budget, and whilst it was big on plushy headlines (for the papers that weren’t caught up in absolutely pointless Royal debates) it fell far short on helping everyone through this awful time.
Pub, venues and hospitality:
Hospitality has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. Enforced closures and stringent restrictions upon opening have brought the pubs, bars and venues of our city to their knees.
Unable to earn any money and pressured by the circling vultures of landlords and property developers, the hospitality trade had hoped the March budget would remedy their great many ills. What actually came out of Rishi’s little red box, however, was:
- An extension of the 15pct VAT cut to soft drinks, food and accommodation for six more months.
- Extending the business rate holiday until June.
- A freeze on alcohol duty.
- Extension of the job retention scheme
- Grants of up to £18,000 per pub, based on rateable value: More here.
Meanwhile, the self employed have again been thrown a begrudging bone in the form of two more income support grants.
- The previously-announced February-April grant will again cover 80pct of lost earnings and be open to apply for in late April (what you are supposed to do until then no one knows.)
- A further grant will be available in July, but will be means tested on loss of earning in the three months prior.
The third and fourth grants will cover those that became self employed in the 2019/20 financial year.
For the lucky ones with proper PAYE jobs, there is a lot more of the same to come.
- The existing furlough scheme has been extended
- Under the new plan, employers will be expected to pay for 10% of a furloughed worker’s wages in July, rising to 20% in August and September.
Whilst support for workers, the self employed and the hospitality is welcome, there are a number of big, properly fucking off massive warning signs in the budget.
- Taxation will rise to the highest level since the 1960s
- There will be some £4bn in local budget cuts
- Of the new £1bn “Levelling up Fund” that will benefit 45 towns in dire need of support, 40 of the selected towns are Tory councils, including Sunak’s own. Chelsea in London has also been deemed more in need of new cash than Tower Hamlets.
- The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that the proposed cuts are “too harsh to be deliverable”.
So basically, the Tories are using the cover of the Covid pandemic to absolutely annihilate public services, pump money into their own constituencies, oh, and also, not mention any fiscal downsides of Brexit – sweeping the economic catastrophe that is leaving the European Union under the banner of Covid austerity.
All of this is supposed to be forgotten by announcements that they will then do the absolute bare minimum to keep people in jobs. It’s the Tories, what did literally anyone expect.