United Kingdom

Budget 2021 Live: Analysis, reaction and verdicts on the statement

£100 contactless limit

The Treasury says it will allow contactless payments to rise from £45 to £100. 

The start of the pandemic saw the limit raised from £30. The move can be made after Britain left the EU, which sets the cap for member states. It comes as more people use tap 'n' go and cash usage has dwindled in the pandemic.

It will be welcomed by businesses, but there will also be worries about fraud. Australia, Canada and the US have higher limits than in Europe already.

The Treasury says in an email: 'The proportion of debit card payments using contactless has risen since the onset of Covid-19, from 4 out 10 in 2019 to 6 out of 10 in September 2020.'

Tsk, tsk Treasury: 2 in 5 in 2019 to 3 in 5 in September 2020.

'Full fiscal firepower'

This seems to be the three word message I have heard more than most this morning.

In a crucial Budget that could set the country's path for years to come, the Chancellor will go big by extending the £53billion furlough scheme for an extra five months, as well as keeping self-employed and business bailouts.

The £20-a-week boost to Universal Credit is expected to stay for another six months, alongside VAT and business rates breaks for hospitality, leisure and tourism.   

But as he unveils tens of billions of pounds more spending - on top of the £280billion already shelled out by the Treasury - Mr Sunak is also likely to deliver a stark message that the largesse cannot continue, writes MailOnline political editor James Tapsfield:

Furlough and Universal Credit

These have been confirmed - though not entirely in planned fashion it seems. Mr Sunak has it seems decided it is too early tried to wean the economy off eye-wateringly expensive subsidies.

The £50billion job protection scheme will be extended from the end of April until the end of September. 

Employees will continue to receive 80 per cent of current salary capped at £2,500 per month until the scheme ends, with employers asked for a small contribution from the end of July.

The £20 universal credit uplift meanwhile will also be extended another six months.

Pensions and tax

1. A manifesto pledge not to raise the headline rate will constrain the Chancellor, but he is expected to freeze income tax thresholds for three years, dragging 1.6million into higher rates. 

Freezing the £12,500 threshold at which people start paying tax would bring in an estimated £5billion and freezing the £50,000 threshold where the 40p rate kicks in would bring in £1billion by 2024-25.  

2. Hiking capital gain tax to income tax levels has been floated, as has slashing the annual tax-free amount from £12,300 to as low as £2,000. Such measures would amount to a substantial raid on profits made from any investments held outside of an Isa or pension.

The move could see the tax rate on capital gains rocket from the current 20 per cent on investments such as shares and investment funds to 40 per cent for higher rate taxpayer. For basic rate taxpayers it would double from 10 per cent to 20 per cent.

3. The lifetime allowance, which is the total amount you can pay into a pension and still get tax relief, could be frozen at £1,073,100 for the rest of this parliament, rather than increased it in line with inflation.

This move would affect higher earners who are still saving for retirement, particularly those in final salary pension schemes, like doctors and headteachers. Reporter Tanya Jefferies takes a look:

Savings

The Treasury already revealed this week that savers will be able to buy into 'green savings bonds' offered through National Savings & investments later this year.

So far, we know that funds raised will be 'earmarked for projects such as renewable energy and clean transportation that will help the UK build back greener and meet its target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050', the Treasury said.

The bonds will enable everyday savers to buy into the Government's £12billion ten-point 'green industrial revolution', which will include expanding offshore wind power plants, planting 30,000 trees and revamping UK homes and public transport.

It comes as new figures from the Bank of England reveal Britain is sitting on a £143.5billion lockdown cash pile. The key question: What rate will they pay? Reporter George Nixon takes a look:

Property

It looks like details of a stamp duty holiday extension until the end of June will be announced - this was a measure that was introduced in the summer mini-Budget and triggered a property price boom.

Latest figures from Nationwide Building Society suggest values have risen nearly £15,000 in the last 12 months, while the Office for National Statistics revealed prices were up £20,000 in 2020, which is extraordinary in the midst of a pandemic.

That aside, there are rumours of government-backed home loans for those with 5% deposits. This is Money assistant personal finance editor Helen Crane delved into how it could work

What do we know so far?

Here are a few bits likely to happen:

-The furlough scheme extended from its current end point on April 30 to the end of September

-Corporation tax up from 19 per cent to 20, with a 'pathway' to raising it to 23 per cent. There may be an exemption for entrepreneurs

-Hospitality and tourism firms will benefit from an extension of the VAT cut – probably until the end of the summer

-Business rates holiday for the hardest hit sectors will continue beyond the current deadline at the end of this month

-No increase in the rate of income tax however thresholds are set to be frozen for three years, dragging 1.6million into higher rates

-Fuel duty is set to be frozen after Boris Johnson vetoed plans for an immediate 5p hike

-The stamp duty holiday – a tax break on purchases of homes worth less than £500,000 - set to be extended until the end of June

-An extra £410million for theatres and other arts venues. Cricket to benefit from £300million for sports

-Community groups to receive £150million to support local pubs and sports clubs

-A new £520million scheme to help small businesses grow and give them access to advice from the country's top business schools

TikTok Chancellor

He even has his own TikTok account: rishi.sunak - this little ditty from yesterday has apparently since been deleted from the account, but not before Twitter account Accidental Partridge picked up on it...

Glossy photoshoots

I mean, this looks a little like the promotional material for a new digital-only bank:

Slick social media

Here is a case in point - a near six minute video on Twitter which comes across like an episode of This is Your Life:

Who is Rishi Sunak?

It's safe to say that 'Dishy Rishi' has become a household name in the last 12 months. He is a fan of glossy photoshoots, slick social media posts and whenever I've heard him speak in interviews, is one of the better politicians (in my opinion) at holding himself together.

Here's a quick reminder of who he is:

Rishi Sunak only became Chancellor on 13 February 2020.

It came after Sajid Javid reportedly fell out with Boris Johnson's most senior adviser Dominic Cummings, after resisting plans to increase borrowing.

He was viewed as a traditional Conservative chancellor, focused more on balancing the books than on delivering some of the bold changes envisioned by the Prime Minister.

He was the second youngest Chancellor to undertake the Budget speech since George Osborne in 2010. 

Born in Southampton, he has been MP for Richmond, Yorkshire, since 2014 - the seat previously held by William Hague.

He is GP's son who married an Indian tech billionaire's daughter and built a multi million-pound fortune that saw him dubbed the 'Maharaja of the Dales'

A graduate of £42,000-per-year Winchester College and Oxford University, where he studied PPE, he is believed to be one of the richest members of Parliament, and lives with his family in a magnificent Georgian manor house in the small village of Kirby Sigston, just outside Northallerton in North Yorkshire.

A multi-millionaire in his own right thanks to his investment career, Mr Sunak was known to be close to his former boss Sajid Javid, with the pair joining each other on nights out and sharing Star Wars jokes on Twitter. 

His Instagram account depicts a sport-loving family man who dotes on the two daughters he shares with his wife, Akshata Murthy, whose father N.R. Narayana Murthy is India's sixth-wealthiest man thanks to his ownership of multinational business technology giant Infosys. 

For many, he was the man behind an August 2020 of eating, thanks to the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Will there be an EOHO 2.0?

Good morning

Welcome to our live coverage of the Budget 2021. It is the third in little under a year from Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

He delivered his maiden speech on 11 March 2020, weeks after starting the role and days before the first national lockdown as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded.

Then on 8 July 2020, he did a lite version, which looked to help the post-coronavirus economy.

Today, in the aftermath of a bleak winter, he will be expected to announce a number of measures to help do the same a week after a roadmap out of lockdown three was revealed.

The This is Money team have had their usual morning meeting ahead of the speech, but over video conferencing tool Zoom as we all continue to work from home.

Instead of our usual snacks, biscuits and other goodies we share throughout the day to keep us going as we devour the details, I have just loaded up a basket for Greggs to be delivered by JustEat for the grand all sum of £1.49. The glamour.

But despite the fact we cannot all be in the same bustling Budget office as we usually would, it’s safe to say it still has the excitement factor – I woke up with that same knot of anticipation as I usually would: IT’S BUDGET DAY!

It's essentially Christmas Day for finance journalists (yes, really).

Football news:

Thomas Mueller: Flick didn't explain his decision, but neither should he. He spent a lot of energy for 1.5 years
Guardiola on 0:1 with Chelsea: It is not easy to beat a team that defends itself in the third
Tuchel on the victory over Man City: A very strong Chelsea game. Proud
Four Monaco players were infected with the coronavirus before the match with Bordeaux. Golovin - in the application for the game
Chelsea reached the FA Cup final for the 8th time under Abramovich-a record
Fernandinho caught Mount's face with his boot as he lay on the turf
Ole Gunnar Solscher: The mistakes of the judges are a test. At Manchester United training, the referees deliberately make them