UK Chancellor Sunak Unveils GBP 30 Bln Plan To Support Jobs

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UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday unveiled a package of GBP 30 billion worth of stimulus measures, including tax cuts and bonuses, to support jobs amid the economic slump caused by the coronavirus, or Covid-19, pandemic.

The latest measures are part of the government's three phase plan to boost the economy that is severely hurt by the lockdown and social distancing measures triggered by the Covid-19.

"Our plan has a clear goal: to protect, support and create jobs," Sunak told parliament.

"It will give businesses the confidence to retain and hire."

The chancellor announced a job retention one-off bonus of GBP 1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still in employment as of January 31, 2021.

The government will launch a GBP 2 billion Kickstart Scheme to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people in the 16-24 age group who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.

The chancellor also announced a total GBP 1.6 billion investment for scaling up employment support schemes, training and apprenticeships to help people looking for a job.

The Plan for Jobs also include bringing forward GBP 8.8 billion of new infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects. A GBP 3 billion green investment package within this could save around 140,000 green jobs and upgrade buildings and reduce emissions, the chancellor said.

The UK government is also planning to spend GBP 5.8 billion on shovel-ready construction projects to get Britain building, Sunak said.

In a bid to protect jobs in the tourism and hospitality sectors, which among the worst hit sectors due to the pandemic, the chancellor unveiled a Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme to encourage people to safely return to restaurants.

Under this, a 50 percent reduction will be provided for sit-down meals in cafes, restaurants and pubs across the UK from Monday to Wednesday every week throughout August.

He also reduced the VAT rate on most tourism and hospitality-related activities to 5 percent from 20 percent for six months.

Both these measures are expected to support over 2.4 million staff in these sectors.

Sunak also raised the ceiling for attracting stamp duty exemption on housing transactions to GBP 500,000 from GBP 125,000 until March 31, 2021.

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