A message from the chancellor update on today’s lockdown

A message from the chancellor update on today’s lockdown

In Bristol this morning,
summer days ahead might have been occupying a few thoughts.
But for others,
especially in business,
it will be Wednesday’s budget concentrating minds.
So I’ll just show you the kitchen which is just in here.
Navina Bartlett,
an events caterer,
is among many wondering what financial support might be announced.
With no events to cater for for over a year,
she’s now taken a job as a carer.
The hardest part of the last year,
she says.
I think it was kind of at the end of the summer because I knew that I’d have to weather the whole winter.
And that was particularly scary because I didn’t know how I was going to survive at that point.
It’s certainly taken a toll on my mental health.
I’ve had to take a lot of inner courage and more recently I’ve had to take a job in care.
So now I go into people’s houses and I help them just as a way of making some money
just to tide me over until things get up and running again.
For those on the high street and in hospitality in England came news today of a £5 billion scheme
with equivalent funding for the other UK nations.
Grants of up to £18,000
will be available from April to help shops,
restaurants and others reopen,
adding to support like furlough and business rates relief.
Some businesses argued it didn’t go far enough.
The Chancellor said it was the right thing to do but honesty about public finances was needed too.
Well my priority is to keep supporting British families,
businesses and people through this crisis.
I said at the beginning I would do whatever it took to do exactly that and I remain committed to that.
But I also want to level with people about the challenges we face.
Coronavirus has had an enormous shock both to our economy and our public finances
and I think it’s right to be honest with people about that challenge
and be clear about what our plan to address that is.
The Chancellor said he couldn’t talk in advance of the budget
about whether that frank conversation with the public involved changes to taxes
but it was an issue dominating some newspaper headlines today.
With the UK’s national debt at its highest level since the 1960s
there were reports today of a possible hike in corporation tax.
Also a possible freezing of thresholds at which people start paying basic and higher rates of income tax.
Labour claimed it was all being driven by a Tory government
already in thrall to its next general election campaign.
Do we want to see a government focused on tax changes now
so it can wash its hands of them by the time of the next election
or a government focused on economic recovery?
We really need to see the second.
We need our government to be focused on protecting jobs and businesses right now.
How to continue trying to shield a battered economy through the fallout of an ongoing pandemic?
On Wednesday the Chancellor presents his latest plan for recovery.

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