Summer statement: First reaction from the region

Tax less, spend more – Gareth Anderson, EY’s head of tax in the Thames Valley & South, comments on the chancellor’s Economic Statement:

“The chancellor delivered an Economic Statement that may not have been heralded as a Budget, but nonetheless delivered some significant changes to the country’s taxation and spending regime. In what was clearly a Tax Less, Spend More statement, Rishi Sunak delivered not just a VAT cut for the few, but spending grants for the many. On the few, we saw VAT cuts of those in hospitality and leisure, whilst on the many there was an effort to encourage people to eat out (but only at the start of the week) or to improve their green footprints (through making their houses more energy efficient).

“The six-month targeted VAT cut may bring a smile to the face of restauranteurs but won’t apply to any alcoholic tipple that accompanies the food. Combined with the £10 ‘Eat out to help out’ half price offer per diner per meal, this chancellor has been putting his money where his mouth is.

“Combined with a similar cut for accommodation and attractions, the chancellor has been showing his ‘get up and go’ characteristics.

“Beyond this, the cut in Stamp Duty was clearly intended to stimulate house moves.

“But the largest impact was to address those fearing the effect of Furlough Cold Turkey, or the young facing a troubled job market. With a grant of £1,000 per furloughed employee retained through to end January next year, this element of the Chancellor’s help may be small compared to the salary costs (effectively just over £300 per month), but will be welcome nonetheless.

“Whether this is enough to stop redundancies is yet to be seen. Also, this scheme may leave a sour taste in the mouth for those businesses which have struggled on without furloughing workers and be seen as unfair in relation to those who worked throughout the lockdown.

“For those entering the job market, the Chancellor’s Kickstart scheme is set to attract up to 400,000 young people, who companies can take on, with the government grant paying the minimum wage for six months.”

Sara Abou-Jaoude, residential property partner at leading South East law firm Moore Barlow commented: “After months of uncertainty in the property market as a result of Covid 19 the Government has at last provided some good news for house buyers, with changes to Stamp Duty taking effect immediately. This will further help the thaw of the housing market which has been on ice since lockdown were imposed back in March. How this will impact on the South East housing market is yet to be seen.”

Dorset Chamber chief executive Ian Girling said: “The Chancellor’s ‘meal deal’ summer statement has given plenty of food for thought.

“Although the ‘eat out to help out’ giveaway will grab the headlines, the most important focus of this announcement was about jobs.

“The new furlough retention bonus shows how concerned the Government is about mass unemployment once the scheme ends but it may not be enough for those firms which have been severely hit.

“The leisure, tourism and hospitality sectors in Dorset have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic so the VAT cut will be especially welcome in this sector.

“Anything which puts more pounds in the pocket of the public, such as the green homes grant, is a good thing while the changes to stamp duty will also be a boost.”