Following last week's announcement by the government to Build, Build, Build today, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, outlined further stimulus in the forms of a furlough bonus, a stamp duty holiday and a £3bn green building plan to get construction moving again.
The measures announced by Mr Sunak are aimed at supporting construction jobs and boosting housing to protect the sector from mass redundancies over the coming months.
A green recovery
Mr Sunak, who called today’s speech “the second phase of the government’s economic response to covid-19”, pledged a green recovery, with a £2bn Green Homes Grant, and £1bn to make public sector buildings greener.
The £2bn Green Homes Grant will allow homeowners and landlords to apply for vouchers to make their homes more energy efficient, with the government covering at least 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, while social housing will receive £50m to pilot green fit-outs including wall insulation and heat pumps.
The scheme will launch in September, with online applications for recommended energy efficiency measures, along with details of accredited local suppliers. Once the suppliers have provided a quote, the voucher would be issued.
The measures would see up to 650,000 homes retrofitted and create 140,000 green jobs, the chancellor claimed.
Stamp duty holiday
A stamp duty holiday, exempting the first £500,000 of all property sales from tax, will start immediately, the chancellor also confirmed today.
Under the changes, homebuyers in England and Northern Ireland will not pay any tax on homes up to £500,000 until 31 March 2021. This applies to first home buyers and those who have owned property before.
The average stamp duty saving will be £4,500, with nine out of ten buyers this year now paying no stamp duty at all on purchases.
Job retention bonus
To “reward and incentivise” businesses that retain staff once the Jobs Retention Scheme ends in October, Mr Sunak also announced the Jobs Retention Bonus as part of the government’s latest effort to prevent redundancies.
Businesses will be able to claim £1,000 per employee for every worker brought back from furlough and kept in work for at least three months, Mr Sunak said. To qualify, workers must be paid at least £520 per month on average when they are brought back and be continuously employed from November to the end of January.
Firms will be paid £1,000 to take on trainees, with £100m pledged to fund places in high-demand sectors such as engineering, construction and social care Mr Sunak announced, with £2bn made available for the Kickstart scheme for young people - and no cap on the number of places available.
The scheme will pay employers to create new jobs for hundreds of thousands of 16-24 year olds at risk of long-term unemployment and will pay a minimum of 25 hours per week paid at at least the national minimum wage.
Although not directly impacting on helping to get construction moving again, the 15% reduction in VAT announced for the hospitality sector, where food, accommodation and attractions VAT will be reduced from 20% to 5%, will help construction firms with their accommodation costs, and workers everyday expenditure on eat-in or hot takeaway food, non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, cafes and pubs.
Eat out to help out
And finally, some good news for all of us who are venturing out-to-eat for the first time in 3 months is the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ discount, due to help protect 1.8 million jobs in the hospitality sector. This is 50%-off meals during August, from Monday to Wednesdays, with a maximum discount of £10 per head.