That was an awfully good start from a Chancellor just one month into his new job

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak holds the budget box outside his office in Downing Street in London 
The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a range of policies to support business, bolster the NHS and prepare for Britain's long-term future

Before the Chancellor got bogged down in a recitation of road works, he really did announce some terrific things. His opening preamble – mercifully short by comparison with those of many of his predecessors – was pretty much pitch perfect.

Addressing the coronavirus crisis, he said that this British parliament had a great tradition of rising above party in times of peril: he was sure that the House and the country were ready to act “in the national interest”. We would, he said, get through this together. The British people were worried but not daunted. This was well said and all the more effective for being obviously true.

Then he got to the substance of the Government’s plan for coping with the economic effects of the pestilence – even while making it clear that this was not going to be an excuse for putting all the Government’s election promises on indefinite hold. This was clever too. A plague Budget would have looked like an excuse for a cop-out on the difficult future and it would have added to the alarming sense of national emergency.

538prom精品视频在线播放So first there were the measures to mitigate the damage of the virus and the Government’s own advice to stay at home. These were serious. The first priority had to be the protection of small businesses which were most likely to go under. The immediate problems for them were the new Government edict that they must pay statutory sick pay from the first day of  any enforced absence by staff. The cost of that, he announced, would be directly met by the Government: the Treasury would refund employers 14 days of sick pay for their self-isolating staff. For the self-employed and those in the gig economy whose livelihoods would simply vanish if they were forced to stay at home, there was help too. 

The minimum income base for Universal Credit would be suspended and payment of the benefit would be accelerated. There was an even more stupendous development for the owners of small high street businesses whose business rates would be suspended for the duration of the present emergency. There would also be loans – a new Business Interruption Loan Scheme – for those damaged by loss of customer demand. Between them, these measures could save a good many small enterprises and family firms.

 

Of course there was to be more money for the NHS and for research into the virus itself. But perhaps of more immediate effect for the availability of treatment to patients was the reform of the pensions tax taper. By increasing the threshold, the Chancellor said, he would be taking 98 per cent of consultants and GPs out of the taper altogether. This should have a quite miraculous effect on the imminent retirement plans of so many senior doctors and thus provide a significant improvement in the staffing levels of primary care services.

538prom精品视频在线播放Much of the rest of what the Chancellor said may have involved hyperbole and wishful thinking – but there could be no gainsaying those concrete measures that would have an inevitable impact on current circumstances, and the public morale. For a man who only got the job a month ago, it was an awfully good start.