Chancellor Rishi Sunak vowed to get Britain back on its feet as he set out the Budget on Wednesday.
He put forward another £65billion of Covid support and promised to do everything possible to help people and business through the pandemic.
But tellingly he failed to mention some of the ways the economy will be hit – and how it will leave millions frustrated.
The Chancellor stopped short of letting us in on some of the more awkward ways the economy will be hit in the months ahead.
Mirror Online have picked out the 11 surprises hidden in the small print from yesterday's announcement.
NHS spending looks set to fall
Rishi Sunak avoided talking about the day-to-day NHS – and if you dig a little deeper it shows spending on the NHS will actually fall in 2021/22.
With Covid-19 spending included, the Department for Health and Social Care will spend £169.1bn in 2021 – down £30bn from £199.2bn this year.
And NHS England will spend £139.1bn, down from £147.7bn.
Government sources pointed out spending is rising significantly if you strip out the amounts for Covid-19, hitting record levels by 2023/24. They added the NHS was already given money in a long-term plan – and more Covid spending could be announced further down the line.
But Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said: “Rishi Sunak promised to be ‘open and honest’ with the British public. But buried in the small print of his budget is a cut to frontline NHS services that will increase pressure on staff and do nothing for patients stuck on growing waiting lists.”
Public spending could be ‘cut by £4bn a year’
It has been projected there will be “cuts” of £4bn – followed by cuts of £3.5bn, £3.9bn and £4.2bn in the years that follow.
Government sources claim part of those cuts are just technical adjustments after inflation was different to predictions.
The respected IFS think tank warned: "Mr Sunak is planning to spend £14bn to £17bn less on public services each year after 2021 than he had planned pre-Covid.
"Given the mounting pressures on the NHS, schools, courts and other services, the credibility of such a tight settlement is questionable. There will certainly be strong pressure for future top-ups."
2million people 'will still be on furlough' just before it ends
Around two million people will still be on furlough just before the scheme comes grinding to a halt, Budget projections suggest.
A six-month extension to a number of Covid support schemes is to run until the end of September – including the 80% wage top-up.
But the small print from the Office for Budget Responsibility – the government’s Budget watchdog – suggests 2million jobs will still be furloughed in September.
Projections could raise fears that some workers will still face a cliff-edge when furlough, along with the £20 Universal Credit uplift and a 5 per cent VAT rate for pubs, end around September 30.
It's official – Brexit will leave us worse off
Many quickly noticed Sunak didn't say the word "Brexit" once in his Budget speech.
But the OBR watchdog did. It declared Brexit will lead to “a long-run loss of productivity of around 4%” compared with remaining in the EU".
And short-term disruption to trade between the UK and EU will knock 0.5% off GDP in the first three months of this year, the OBR said.
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The trade deal – which spares the UK trade tariffs but introduces new paperwork and customs checks – has failed to shift the bleak forecast first made in November.
And in fact, “the implementation of the agreement and introduction of health checks at the border has involved more short-term disruption to UK-EU trade than was assumed in our November forecast”, the OBR said.
Earlier self-employed hit expected
While most support schemes are being extended to September, the small print reveals one hit to the self-employed will return earlier.
The Minimum Income Floor – which limits the benefits self-employed people can claim – will be reintroduced at “the end of July” after a 16-month suspension.
The Budget says the measure still has a one-year grace period and work coaches will get “discretion” not to apply it if they feel someone is still hit by Covid.
The MIF is designed to stop taxpayers propping up failed businesses for self-employed people who make a loss.
Big firms 'may escape the Corporation Tax hike'
By far the biggest tax grab is a massive U-turn on years of Tory Corporation Tax cuts.
From April 2023 firms will have to pay up to 25% on their profits – up from 19% now, a rate George Osborne repeatedly slashed.
It’s the golden egg for Rishi Sunak as he predicts it will bring in £17.2bn a year by 2025, funding 3.2% of all national income.
Yet there’s a catch – firms with profits under £250,000 a year will pay less than 25%, on a sliding scale all the way down to the current 19%.
This is supposed to spare 1.4million small firms a hike, and it will. But it could also let massive firms with tiny profit margins slip (deliberately, perhaps) off the hook.
The respected IFS think tank gave a brutal verdict: “Low-profit companies do not correspond to low-income people. And it introduces unnecessary complexities and distortions into the tax system.”
New Stamp Duty cut won’t actually help first-time buyers
The Stamp Duty cut is being extended to June 30 – and then again in a compromise form all the way to September 30.
Those final three months are to “smooth the transition” back to normal tax rates. But the final three-month period won’t actually help first-time buyers at all.
At the moment, the threshold to pay tax on buying a house is a much higher than usual £500k. That saves first-time buyers up to £10,000 and ladder-movers up to £15,000.
But between July 1 and September 30 the threshold will change to £250k. That’ll still help people moving up the ladder, whose threshold would usually be £125k. Yet it does nothing for first-time buyers – because they already had a special threshold of £300k anyway.
Meanwhile the extensions will cost a staggering £1.6bn – while the Budget announced no new help for struggling renters.
Stealth tax raid on working Brits will rake in £8bn a year
Rishi Sunak announced a stealth tax raid – and true to form, it will creep up on you.
The Income Tax personal allowance – the amount you don’t pay tax on – will be frozen at £12,570 until 2025/26. So will the 40p tax threshold of £50,270.
On the one hand these were raised massively by the Tories so seem a fair target. And next year, a £15,000 earner will be deprived of a grand total of just over £12 in saved tax.
But the impact will quickly pile up as the cumulative impact of years of freezes takes hold. The freezes go from raising £1.6bn for the Treasury in 2022-23, to an eye-watering £8.2bn in 2025-26.
Freezing the lifetime allowance for wealthier pensioners will also rake in £300m a year by 2025-26.
Eye-watering cost of the fuel duty freeze
Fuel duty has now been frozen for the 10th year in a row – and while it’s a boost to motorists, the small print reveals the eye-watering cost to the taxpayer.
Scrapping the planned rise this year alone will deprive the Treasury of just shy of £1billion a year by 2025.
And that’s without all the cumulative increases that would have come in the last decade if it had kept going up.
Friends of the Earth’s head of policy Mike Childs said: “It’s astonishing that a government pledging to confront the climate emergency has frozen fuel duty yet again. No wonder passenger cars’ contribution to the climate crisis has barely fallen in the past decade.”
How much will 95% mortgages cost the nation?
Very unusually, there is no predicted cost for the massive mortgage guarantee scheme to be launched next month.
The programme will see the state promise to pay a portion of banks’ losses in return for them offering “risky” mortgages with a 5% deposit.
While this will cost the taxpayer almost nothing if the housing market stays buoyant, we’ll be left on the hook for billions if home prices collapse.
Yet the OBR admitted: ”The new mortgage guarantee scheme has not been sufficiently specified to be incorporated in our forecast."
The finer details of the scheme – including what “loan to value” rates will be covered by it – aren’t spelt out in the Budget.
The Green Homes Grant looks to have been buried
Nowhere in the small print does the Budget mention the Green Homes Grant – which suggests it is dying a death.
The scheme – which allowed homeowners to claim £5,000 vouchers to make their home more energy efficient – has been beset by controversy after its £2bn of funding in 2020/21 was slashed back to £320m in 2021/22.
Yet the Budget made no pledge to extend it. Sources admitted there had been “delivery challenges” with the Grant, including that it had been harder to install new insulation during Covid, but that the existing commitment to helping people reduce their energy bills had not been removed.
Greenpeace branded the handling of the grant “shambolic”.
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