What the Summer Statement means for you – Jasmine Birtles
In the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak’s, super-soaraway Summer Statement there were lots of things to cheer about. How they’re all paid for is another matter, but we can kick that particular can down the road for a few months at least and, where possible, make the most of the latest incentives to get our economy working again.
Here’s what you could benefit from in the next few months:
Cheaper house purchases
To give the property industry a jump-start, the Chancellor announced a temporary drop in stamp duty. He did it by raising the threshold at which buyers have to pay stamp duty on residential properties in England and Northern Ireland, from £125,000 to £500,000. So if the property you’re buying is under £500,000 you won’t have to pay any tax on the purchase. This applies to property deals that happen from 8th July to 31st March 2021.
In Scotland they have announced that for their equivalent to stamp duty – the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax – the threshold is rising from £145,000 to £250,000 until the end of next March. Also the Welsh government has put up its Land Transaction Tax threshold from £180,000 to £250,000, again until the end of March 2021.
Free money for home improvements
Rather cleverly, Sunak announced free money for those wanting to improve the energy-efficiency of their homes, thereby both helping the trades while also improving the country’s carbon-efficiency. He is offering:
- Up to £5,000 per household for projects that make homes more energy-efficient (in England), matching the householders (or landlord’s) spend at a rate of £2 for every £1.
- And up to £10,000 for low-income households, fully-funding projects that will improve the energy-efficiency of their property.
Eat out on the cheap
For the whole of August – from Monday to Wednesday – you and I and everyone else in the country can each get up to £10 off meals we eat in participating cafes and restaurants. It’s actually a 50% off deal but it’s capped at £10 per head. The discounts will be applied to your bill and the restaurant will apply for the money back from the Government via an online form.
Help to retain jobs
The Chancellor announced that companies that retain employees up until at least the end of January 2021 will get a £1,000 bonus. That’s free money for businesses that are willing to keep on employees that are earning over £520 per month rather than make them redundant.
Of course, for some businesses this will not be enough. If you are paying someone £4,000 a month, say, and you suddenly have no customers, then a one-off payment of £1,000 will not make up the shortfall. However, in some cases it could make the difference between retaining someone and letting them go.
Jobs for youth
Businesses are to get a helpful incentive to employ more young people, as it’s the youth who have suffered the most financially from the lockdown. Two programmes have been announced:
- The Kickstart Scheme which is offering employers £1,000 for every trainee aged 16-24, on Universal Credit, that they take on (at least in England). Not only that but the first six months of their wages (national minimum wage) plus NI and pensions contributions will be paid for a 25-hours a week placement (and that’s for the whole of Great Britain).
- Money for an apprentice scheme where employers in England will get grants for £2,000 per apprentice under 25 that they employ, or £1,500 per apprentice over 25 that they bring in. The apprenticeships have to last for at least six months and the scheme opens on 1st August.
Help for students and unemployed
The Chancellor is clearly aware that a lot of younger people are facing a much reduced choice of job opportunities so he’s promised a lot of money to help them find something to do, even if it’s not actual work but education and training. He has promised:
- £101m to fund studies for people aged 18 or 19 who can’t find work (this is in England only).
- Double the number of work coaches in JobCentres across the country, plus an extra £150m for the ‘Flexible Support Fund’ which helps jobseekers find work.
- £32m put into a National Careers Service to advise job seekers in England on work and training.
- A job-finding support service for people who have been out of work for less than three months and £95m for the Work and Health Programme to help people who have been unemployed for more than three months.
All these measures are very generous and could be extremely helpful to businesses and individuals, not to mention the planet. However, the details, the deadlines, the start times and clarity on what and who qualifies for a grant, are all still to be found out.
It is by no means clear which energy-efficient projects will qualify for grants, or exactly when the traineeships and apprenticeships will start or when there will be more careers advisors in Job Centres. The best we can do at the moment is to keep an eye out for announcements in the media and on the government website Gov.uk. That, and saving our pennies for lots of meals out on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the whole of August!
Jasmine Birtles is a finance expert on TV and radio and the founder of MoneyMagpie.com
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