Stamp duty, jobs and £500 vouchers? What could be in 'mini-budget' today

The Chancellor will deliver his summer economic update – or coronavirus ‘mini-budget’ – to the House of Commons today.

Rishi Sunak will unveil a cash injection worth £200 billion in total to help the economy recover in the aftermath of the pandemic.

He is expected to announce a string of measures including a plan to create new jobs for young people, the temporary scrapping of stamp duty, and a rumoured scheme to give shoppers £500 vouchers to spend on the high street.

New jobs for young people

One of his main discussion points will be a £2 billion ‘kickstart scheme’ which aims to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs for under-25s.

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The plan will subsidise six-month work placements for 16- to 24-year-olds claiming Universal Credit and facing long-term unemployment.

Government funding would cover 100% of the minimum wage for 25 hours a week in the scheme that will be open to all employers across Great Britain, with bosses able to top up wages.

Ahead of the announcement, Mr Sunak said: ‘Young people bear the brunt of most economic crises, but they are at particular risk this time because they work in the sectors disproportionately hit by the pandemic.

‘We also know that youth unemployment has a long-term impact on jobs and wages and we don’t want to see that happen to this generation.

‘So we’ve got a bold plan to protect, support and create jobs – a plan for jobs.’

The Treasury acknowledged that young people are more likely to be furloughed under the job retention scheme which is being wound up and is due to end in October.

And £111 million will be injected into trainee schemes for 18-24 year olds, giving companies in England £1,000 bonus per trainee.

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said the Government is ‘yet to rise to the scale of the unemployment crisis’ and said the priority should be to abandon its ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to ending the job retention and self-employment schemes.

‘In addition, older people who become unemployed, and those living in particularly hard-hit areas, will also need tailored support,’ she added.

Lib Dem leadership candidate Layla Moran said the package ‘will sadly be too little too late for many of the corona class of 2020’.

‘Eighteen-year-olds could be left being paid just £161 a week under this scheme, which in some parts of the country would barely cover rent and transport costs,’ she added.

However, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, Frances O’Grady, welcomed the measure as a ‘good first step’ to prevent mass youth unemployment.

‘But we’ll be checking the small print to ensure every job provides proper training and a bridge to steady employment,’ she added.

And Confederation of British Industry director-general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said the plan ‘will be a much-needed down payment in young people’s futures’.

‘By investing in skills, the Government can lessen the potential scarring impact of the pandemic for the next generation,’ she added.

Stamp duty ‘holiday’

It is also thought the Chancellor will offer an immediate stamp duty ‘holiday’ to temporarily exempt the tax on the first £500,000 of homes purchased in England and Northern Ireland.

The reports are as of yet unconfirmed but it is hoped this will help boost the housing market.

There has also been speculation that Mr Sunak will raise the threshold for stamp duty payment for property sales where it applies in England and Northern Ireland from £125,000 to £500,000.

Housing market experts say it is home-buyers in southern England who stand to benefit the most from the move.

£500 high street vouchers for everyone

There are reports a high street voucher scheme worth £30 billion is on the cards after a recommendation from a think tank, but this is also unconfirmed.

Vouchers worth £500 per adult and £250 per child could be handed out to be spent in the parts of the economy which need a boost, such as retail, hospitality and leisure.

Funding for households to insulate their homes

In his speech, Mr Sunak will also detail a £3 billion green package with grants for homeowners and public buildings to improve energy efficiency.

It will include £2 billion worth of funding for households to insulate their homes and make them more energy-efficient, but campaigners said the funding pales in comparison to the economic and environmental crises.

Nature conservation schemes

The Chancellor is also expected to confirm the announcement made last week by the Prime Minister that £40 million will be made available for nature conservation schemes.

Schemes to plant trees, clean up rivers and create new green spaces for people and wildlife could reportedly support up to 5,000 new jobs.

Emergency VAT cut

Mr Sunak has also been urged to consider an emergency VAT cut to stimulate consumer spending and stem the 14% slump in GDP forecast by the Bank of England this year.

The UK’s unemployment rate could also soar to 14.8% with job losses comparable to the 1930s, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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