Further fiscal interventions focused on post-furlough future

ICAEW 9 July 2020: Chancellor announces £30bn in new measures to support, protect and create jobs, bringing total fiscal interventions to £190bn.

The Chancellor used his summer statement speech to set out a phased approach to the UK Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The first phase – the existing measures already taken during the pandemic – was about the protection of the economy during lockdown, while the second phase – the subject of yesterday’s announcement – is about jobs. The third phase – to be announced later in the year – will be about rebuilding the economy and investing for the future.

As anticipated, the summer statement promised substantial sums to support the economy as it emerges from lockdown, with the Plan for Jobs including £30bn in additional funding measures to support, protect and create jobs through economic stimulus.

  • £9.4bn – Job Retention Bonus: £1,000 for keeping furloughed staff on until January
  • £2.1bn – Kickstart work placements for those aged 16-24
  • £1.6bn – boosting work searching, skills and apprenticeships
  • £4.1bn – temporary cut in VAT on hospitality, accommodation and attractions
  • £0.5bn – discounts on eating out
  • £5.6bn – infrastructure investment announced by the Prime Minister last week
  • £1.1bn – public sector and social housing decarbonisation
  • £2.0bn – grants to make private homes more energy-efficient
  • £3.8bn – six-month cut in stamp duty to stimulate the housing market

This takes total fiscal interventions announced by the government to around £190bn, including the £1.3bn for cultural institutions announced a few days ago.

When combined with lower tax revenues, this is expected to result in a fiscal deficit in 2020-21 in excess of £300bn. A better estimate should be available next week from the Office for Budget Responsibility when it updates its short and long-term forecasts.

The amounts above do not include tax deferrals and business loans and guarantees, which have now reached a total of £123bn.

It is as yet unclear whether there will be any statements about the planned third phase on rebuilding the economy before the Budget and spending review later in the autumn when plans for 2021-22 and beyond will be set out in more detail. 

There was significant disappointment in some quarters that the National Infrastructure Strategy, originally scheduled to be published in March, has still not been published.

For those trying to track the fiscal position this year, this is unlikely to be the last fiscal announcement that will move the dial. The government has indicated that further funding is likely to be made available later in the year to local government on top of the £2bn package announced last week. Rescue packages may also be needed for vulnerable sectors such as universities.

This article was originally published by ICAEW.

ICAEW chart of the week: UK population in lockdown

3 July 2020: Only a fraction of the population was working at their normal workplace during the Great Lockdown, but what will happen as businesses start to re-open and the furlough scheme becomes less generous?

UK population 67m: workforce 34m (working at workplace 9m, working from home 10m, furloughed 12m, unemployed 3m); outside workforce: children & students 16m, retired 12m, other inactive 5m.

The #icaewchartoftheweek takes a look at the workforce this week, illustrating how the lockdown has transformed the world of work over the last three months.
 
Our (admittedly) back of the envelope calculations based on ONS and HM Treasury data suggest that only around 9m of the 34m strong workforce have been working normally at their ordinary places of work during the lockdown, with somewhere in the region of 10m working remotely. In addition, just under 12m workers have been furloughed, comprising 9.3m employees on the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) and 2.6m self-employed on the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS).
 
Unemployment, which was around 1.2m back in February, has jumped to an extrapolated estimate of around 2.7m by the end of June and is likely to grow still further as the furlough scheme becomes less generous from 1 July. The ONS’s experimental claimant count metric, which includes a wider group of workers needing financial support from the state, had reached 2.8m by the end of May and is expected to have exceeded 3m by the end of June.
 
The overall workforce of 34m excludes the 33m ‘economically inactive’ half of the population, comprising 16m children and students, 12m retirees and 5m other inactive individuals. The 2.1m students over the age of 16 included in this category excludes around 1m or so students with part-time work or who were looking for work prior to the lockdown who are included in the workforce numbers, while retirees include around 1.2m below the age of 65 who have taken early retirement. Other inactive individuals between the ages of 16 and 64 include 1.8m homemakers, 2.3m disabled or ill, and 1.1m not working for other reasons.
 
These numbers are a moving target as more workers will start to return to their normal workplaces over the next few weeks as the economy starts to re-open, even if many continue to work from home where they can. More worryingly, unemployment is likely to rise significantly with the furlough scheme requiring an employer contribution from July onwards and when it comes to an end in October.

This #icaewchartoftheweek was originally published by ICAEW.