Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced the next phase of his plan to ‘protect, support and retain’ jobs in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
The three-part plan began with the furlough scheme, which has not been extended beyond its October deadline.
Despite predictions of large-scale job losses from the Office for Budget Responsibility and the Bank of England, Mr Sunak told Parliament: ‘I will never accept unemployment as an inevitable outcome.’
Entering the second phase, the chancellor focused on creating jobs for young people, investment in infrastructure, and ‘green recovery’ with cash to for home improvements.
There was also a boost for the hard-hit hospitality and tourism sectors, with a VAT cut for hospitality – from 20% to 5% until January – and a land mark ‘eat out to help out’ scheme, offering discount vouchers for diners.
A third phase, focused on rebuilding the jobs market, will be announced alongside the Budget and Spending Review in the Autumn – which would also see a plan for the future of public finances.
The chancellor said: ‘Our plan has a clear goal: to protect, support and create jobs. It will give businesses the confidence to retain and hire. To create jobs in every part of our country. To give young people a better start. To give people everywhere the opportunity of a fresh start.’
In a speech that was heavily trailed, the chancellor also announced a temporary rise in the stamp duty threshold, up from £125,000 to £500,000 until March next year.
Responding to the announcements Katherine Fairclough, deputy Solace spokesperson for finance said the role of councils would ‘be critical if we are to create jobs at the speed and scale required to help our communities recover’.
She added: ‘As we look ahead it is important the Government uses the forthcoming Spending Review and local government finance settlement to fully fund councils because any long-term economic recovery will be seriously hampered if local government is restricted in its ability to reshape and reimagine local places, let alone respond to a potential second wave of Covid-19.’
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds also issued a warning to parliament on the precarious position of council finances. She said: ‘Our local authorities continue to be cut to the bone with many standing on the brink of bankruptcy as we speak.’
Mr Sunak also outlined a £3bn green investment package, including £1bn to improve the efficiency of public buildings.