In today's (3 March) Budget announcement, the Chancellor set out his vision to help the economy recover from the Coronavirus crisis as it gradually emerges from lockdown in the coming months.
Alcohol duty will be frozen for a further year; one-off 'restart grants will be introduced; and support for the self-employed will be broadened in a Budget that will be welcomed by the hospitality sector, but is arguably not as generous as many businesses would have hoped.
Both the business rates holiday and VAT cut to 5% for hospitality will continue in to the next financial year, but be tapered as businesses are able to unlock.
The business rates holiday will be extended through to the end of June, and then be discounted for the remaining nine months of the financial year by two thirds, up to a value of £2m for closed businesses, with a lower cap for those who have been able to stay open.
VAT applied to food - both eat in and takeaway - accommodation and attractions will continue to be cut to 5% for a further six months to 30 September, followed by interim rate of 12.5% for another six months.
The standard VAT rate of 20% will not return until April next year.
Delivering the Budget in Parliament, the Chancellor said: "This Budget meets the moment with a three-part plan to protect the jobs and livelihoods of the British people.
"First, we will continue doing whatever it takes to support the British people and businesses through this moment of crisis.
"Second, once we are on the way to recovery, we will need to begin fixing the public finances – and I want to be honest today about our plans to do that.
"And, third, in today’s Budget we begin the work of building our future economy."
As was reported earlier today, the Chancellor confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) will be extended until the end of September.
The scheme will continue in its current form - paying 80% of employee wages up to £2,500 a month, with employers covering the costs of pension and National Insurance contributions - until the end of June, by which time it is hoped all social distancing measures will have been relaxed.
In July employers will be expected to pay 10% towards the hours their staff do not work, increasing to 20% in August and September.
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will also continue with a fourth and a fifth grant, with 600,000 more people, many of whom became self-employed in 2019-20, now eligible.
A new £5bn 'restart' grant scheme, which will give hospitality businesses access to one-off payments worth up to £18,000 on a per property basis, was also confirmed
Allocation of those grants will be based on the value of a property.
Properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under will receive £8,000; those with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 will get £12,000; and businesses with properties that have a rateable value of £51,000 or over will be entitled to £18,000.
Furthermore, local communities will have the opportunity to invest and protect local pubs struggling as a result of the pandemic through a £150m Ownership Fund.
A new Recovery Loan Scheme will also be launched to replace the existing Government-guaranteed Business Interruption and Bounce Back loan schemes, and run until the end of the year.
Businesses will be able to access loans of between £25,000 and £10m, with the Government providing lenders with an 80% guarantee.
Duty rates for beer, cider, wine and spirits, meanwhile, will be frozen for a further year.
Elsewhere, the Chancellor confirmed that the rate of Corporation Tax will increase to 25% from 2023, as he works to repair the public finances following the pandemic.
Businesses with profits of £50,000 or less will continue to be taxed at 19% with a tapered rate introduced for profits above £50,000, growing to 25% for businesses with profits of £250,000 or greater.
As part of the UK Government’s Plan for Jobs, the Chancellor announced that he will be doubling the cash incentive to firms who take on an apprentice to a £3,000 payment per hire.
The National Living Wage will be increased to £8.91 from April.
Striking an optimistic tone, the Chancellor said the economy will recover more quickly from the pandemic than previously thought, with the economy returning to its pre-pandemic size six months earlier, by the middle of next year.
However, he added that in five years time the economy will still be 3% smaller than it otherwise would have been without Covid.
GDP will grow by 4% this year, according to official forecasts made by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), and then by 7.3% next year.