Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his budget today (March 3) and it’s sparked fears of another lockdown.
The country is coming to the end of its third lockdown, with Boris Johnson recently announcing his roadmap out of the restrictions.
However, today’s budget announcement appears to have raised fears that the country could perhaps be heading for a fourth lockdown.
What did Rishi Sunak say in the budget today?
The chancellor confirmed the stamp duty holiday would be extended until the end of June on properties up to £500,000.
It’ll be kept at double its usual standard level of £125,000 until the end of September, when it’ll then return to normal.
A mortgage guarantee for first-time buyers was also announced, with 95% mortgages guaranteed.
Corporation tax is due to rise in 2023, but both alcohol and fuel duties will be frozen, Sunak said.
Universal Credit will also rise by £20 per week, as was rumoured last week.
The self-employed grant scheme has also been extended with two additional payments due to take place.
However, it was his comments on the furlough scheme that has raised some alarm bells.
What did the Chancellor say about furlough?
The Chancellor confirmed that the furlough scheme would stay in place until the end of September.
And it’s this which has some people worried.
He said employees will continue to receive 80% of their wages until the scheme ends.
However, firms will be asked to contribute 10% in July and 20% in August and September.
This will come as the scheme is gradually phased out.
Why are there worries over a fourth lockdown?
Sunak chose to extend the financial offerings way past the PM’s scheduled reopening of the country on June 21.
Boris Johnson previously said that is when he expects everything to be up and running and back to normal again.
Why extend the furlough scheme if we are coming out of lockdown?
So the fact that Sunak has set a furlough date even further in the future has come as a worry to some that perhaps there will be a fourth national shutdown at some point before furlough runs out.
Support for the self-employed will also continue until September, Sunak confirmed.
What have Brits said about the budget today?
Many shared their fears online.
One said: “It’s perfectly obvious there will be another lockdown, in June or July, and the government are already planning for it.”
Another added: “We have now been told the lockdowns will continue into the next year with this furlough lark.”
“#furlough extended until September, yet plans to ease lockdown restrictions in June..mmm,” mused another.
“After listening to @RishiSunak’s budget, I think we can safely save the #lockdown won’t be ending in June,” declared another.
“Today’s Rishi Sunak’s budget! Where does that leave Boris’s #RoadmapOutOfLockdown? Why extend the furlough scheme if we are coming out of #lockdown?” another asked.
However, others disagreed about the motives behind Sunak’s financial package.
“This is not in anticipation of a further lockdown. It is to help businesses reopen and recover and prevent if possible further job losses,” they said.
Another agreed: “I see it as a positive step in that the Chancellor wants to encourage businesses to retain their workforce at current levels because he has reason to believe that by October there will be signs that the economy is on the road to recovery.”
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