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Businesses face new costs as three financial support schemes taper off

Businesses face new costs as three financial support schemes taper off
Companies need to start making furlough contributions from Thursday, while stamp duty and business rates holidays are curtailed.

Billions of pounds of Covid-19 support is being phased out as the economy begins to tentatively recover from the crisis.

Around 450,000 companies who still have furloughed staff will need to start picking up 10% of the bill from July 1, according to Labour Party statistics.

This will cost them a combined £225 million, the party said.

Many of these same businesses, such as pubs, will also face a second hit as they start paying business rates again from Thursday.

However many companies will be eligible for reduced rates for the next nine months.

House buyers are also no longer eligible for the same levels of reduction in stamp duty that have been available during the pandemic.

Stamp duty was eliminated early in the crisis for all property purchases up to £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland

From Thursday, the tax-free threshold drops to £250,000 before reaching its normal £125,000 level in October.

The tapering comes as large parts of the economy have been able to reopen in some form over the last few months following strict lockdowns.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics between 1.3 and 1.9 million people are still on furlough in the UK.

However the figure is dropping rapidly and around one million people were taken off the scheme in May.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Our Plan for Jobs has supported people’s jobs and livelihoods throughout the pandemic and it’s fantastic to see so many people coming off furlough and into their workplaces with our restaurants, pubs and shops reopened.

“These figures show what we always hoped would happen – that the scheme is naturally winding down as the economy reopens, but continuing to support those businesses and employees that need our help.”

On Wednesday, Labour called on Mr Sunak to delay his plans to shift some of the burden on to businesses.

Bosses will need to pick up 10% of their furloughed workers’ pay in July, rising to 20% in August and September before the scheme is removed entirely.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said it will cost businesses £322 in July to keep an employee earning £20,000 a year on the books.

In August and September this will rise to £489.

It warned that businesses are likely to make many staff redundant this summer as a result.

Some businesses are still unable to trade due to a delay in the reopening plans for England.

Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson said: “A month’s delay (to easing lockdown) may seem like a short time, but for businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure, legally closed from trading or relying on the summer season, the delay is another blow.

“The Government must make sure economic measures go hand in hand with public health measures and that our British businesses and high streets are not left out in the cold.”

British Chambers of Commerce director-general Shevaun Haviland said: “The taper of Government payments into the furlough scheme should be immediately deferred until we take the final step in the road map, and further grant support should be extended to the worst affected businesses.”

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “The country has invested billions in keeping people in work ready for recovery, but if ministers ‘pull the rug’ from under businesses too soon jobs will go and our heroic national investment will be wasted.”