The Chancellor has set out the next steps in the UK Government’s strategy to secure economic recovery from coronavirus – announcing a “Plan for Jobs” to level up, spread opportunity and unite the UK. But some commentators criticised the plans as falling short of what’s needed for long term recovery.
Rishi Sunak outlined how he would focus on protecting, supporting and creating jobs as the UK enters the next phase in its recovery following the outbreak.
Delivering his summer economic update, he 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.
As part of a series of measures, the Chancellor announced that the government will support jobs with the Job Retention Bonus to help businesses keep furloughed workers. UK Employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021.
The Government intends to create Green by committing to a green recovery and allocated £1 billion to make public sector buildings greener and £2 billion for a Green Homes Grant.
The Grant will allow homeowners and landlords to apply for vouchers to make their homes more energy efficient, with the Government covering two thirds of the cost up to £5,000 per household. For low-income households, the vouchers will cover the full cost up to £10,000.
The measures would see up to 650,000 homes retrofitted and create 140,000 green jobs, the chancellor claimed.
Plans were announced to triple the number of places in sector based work academies, and provide £100m to create more places on level two and three courses for 18 and 19 year olds wanting to find work in high demand sectors such as engineering and construction.
Meanwhile, the cut on stamp duty received a mixed response with house builders complaining there was no clarity on the Government’s Help to Buy initiative which is due to end next March.
The Construction Products Association’s Economics Director, Professor Noble Francis, has responded to the statement. He said: “The Chancellor’s Summer Economic Statement showed that government is determined to get the economy into the recovery phase, with some new policies announced after last week’s damp squib of a ‘New Deal’ announcement from the Prime Minister. As ever, it is the delivery of these announcements that will be key.
“The announcement of a Stamp Duty holiday until 31 March will help to give a sustained boost the housing market after a temporary flurry of housing market activity due to pent-up demand. It will be essential however to also see measures aimed at boosting house building, such as increasing the budget for the Affordable Homes Programme, as well as those aimed at boosting the housing market.
“The £2 billion funding towards energy-efficient retrofit of the existing housing stock is potentially very promising; but the devil is in the detail, as government has previously demonstrated on energy-efficient retrofit programmes, in particular given the very poor experience of the Green Deal policy. In addition, £1 billion for insulating public buildings sounds very good but given this is only for one year, it raises the key question of whether government departments and local authorities have the time or resource to spend this effectively. The main risks are that the majority of this money ends up not getting used or that it gets wasted in a rush to spend it. ”