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Budget: Furlough, fraud and flexibility 

As part of today’s budget (March 3), chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a range of measures that will affect those working in pay and reward. 

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Furlough

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which was due to end on April 30 has been extended until September 30.

 

From July, employers will be expected to pay 10 percent towards the hours their staff do not work and this figure will rise to 20 percent in August and September, as the economy reopens.

 

New HMRC fraud taskforce

To tackle COVID-related fraud, the government will spend £100m to set up a new Taxpayer Protection Taskforce of around 1,250 HMRC investigators.

 

Getting people into work

Apprentice payments will be doubled to £3,000 for all new hires, of any age. As well as this, a new flexi-apprenticeship programme will allow people to work for a number of different employers in the same sector, which the chancellor said should be a boost for industries with more flexible working patterns.

 

Visa reforms

Sunak also explained there will be visa changes to “fast track top talent”. The reforms, aimed at highly skilled migrants, will include a new unsponsored points-based visa to attract the "best and most promising international talent in science, research and tech", as well as new and improved processes for scale-ups and entrepreneurs.

 

Personal thresholds frozen

Income tax, National Insurance and VAT rates will not be raised. However, the government will deliver its promise to raise the personal threshold to £12,570 next year - a rate which it will stay until April 2026.

 

The Lifetime Allowance (LTA) for pension savings has also been frozen until April 2026.

Kay Ingram, director of public policy at LEBC Group, said: "Freezing the lifetime allowance at the current level of £1,073,100 will not make much difference to savers in the short term, as the consumer price index increase applied would have only increased it to £1,078,900.


"However, the long-term effects of this change, on top of earlier reductions in the LTA, make it more difficult for savers to save enough to support a comfortable retirement. Those in the private sector and the self-employed are hardest hit by this measure. The amount required to secure a guaranteed lifetime income (aka an annuity) from invested pension pots has grown at a much faster pace than the lifetime allowance has increased."

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