Budget 2021 latest: Rishi Sunak speech reaction and what cigarette, alcohol, minimum wage & pension changes mean for YOU

CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak has finished announcing his second Budget of 2021, with economic plans that will take Brits through the winter.

Mr Sunak has made major announcements on the minimum wage, Alcohol Duty, the Universal Credit programme, a £435m crime blitz, the unfreezing of public sector pay, a major homebuilding plan and plans to ease the fuel and supply crisis in a Budget he says will help millions of families up and down the country.

The Chancellor also ditched a 2.84p budget hike in fuel duty – a win for The Sun's Keep It Down campaign.

Mr Sunak is now taking questions on his Budget in the House of Commons.

Follow live reaction and find out what the Budget means for your family in our live blog below…

  • Joseph Gamp

    RIshi Sunak hails alcohol reforms as 'progressive'

    Rishi Sunak said the reforms were "progressive" and "much-needed", and would mark the biggest shake-up to alcohol tax in decades.

    The Chancellor said the changes would be fairer and reflect how people drink today.

    However, thirsty punters may have to wait to get their hands on bargain booze.

    The changes will not come into effect until February 2023, and even then, there's no guarantee shops and pubs will pass on the savings.

    Here we look at how the announcement will affect the price of your favourite drinks.

  • Joseph Gamp

    How much booze will cost after Rishi's Budget announcement

    DRINKERS could see the price of their favourite tipple slashed after Rishi Sunak announced the biggest shake-up to booze tax in a century.

    In his Autumn Budget, the Chancellor branded the current system of alcohol taxation as "irrational" and vowed a major overhaul.

    Under the current complicated system there are 15 bands of alcohol tax. But this will be reduced to just six.

    Drinks will now be taxed according to their alcohol content.

    Read more here.

  • Joseph Gamp

    What booze is getting cheaper?

    Fizz fans are in for the biggest price fall, with a whopping 87p set to come off a bottle of Canti Prosecco.

    Mr Sunak said that consumption of sparkling wines like prosecco had doubled and are no stronger than still wines, so should not be taxed differently.

    "I'm going to end the irrational duty premium of 28% that they currently pay," he added.

    "Sparkling wines – wherever they are produced – will now pay the same duty as still wines of equivalent strength."

    The tax cut will knock 64p off a bottle of Freixenet Prosecco (12% ABV) and the same amount off a bottle of Chapel Down English Sparkling wine.

    A bottle of Martini Asti (7.5% ABV) will come down by £1.07.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Boost for retail and hospitality businesses

    Some business owners will see their rates halved in a measure announced today.

    A 50% business rate discount will be given to businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

    These are the industries which were hardest hit by the Covid pandemic, with many forced to shut their doors for months.

    Pubs, music venues, cinemas, restaurants, hotels, theatres and gyms will all be handed the lifeline.

    Eligible businesses will be able to claim a discount on their bills of 50%, up to a maximum of £110,000.

    Mr Sunak said that this move, together with Small Business Rates Relief, will mean more than 90% of businesses in these industries will enjoy a discount of at least 50%.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Smokers among the Budget 2021 losers

    Smokers will be hit in the pocket once more as the price of a pack of fags is set to increase.

    The price of a 20-pack will soar by 88p under the latest increase, with the extra levy coming into effect from 6pm tonight.

    The most expensive 20-packs will now cost £13.60.

    The cheapest packs will see their price increase 63p to £9.73.

    Cigarettes are often in the firing line on Budget day as part of the Government's ongoing war against smoking.

    Hand-rolled tobacco is also affected, with 89p added to the price of a 30g bag, bringing the average cost to £9.02.

  • Joseph Gamp

    How does the Budget affect public sector workers' pay freeze?

    The Chancellor today announced an end to the pay freeze for 2.6 million public sector workers, putting them in line for a potential wage increase.

    These workers have endured a pay freeze as a "temporary pause" was introduced last November during the pandemic.

    The Chancellor said at the time, he could not justify across-the-board wage increases when so many private sector workers had lost their jobs or seen their hours cut during the Covid crisis.

    Nurses, teachers and police officers are among those set to benefit from the announcement.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Budget 2021: The winners and losers

    MILLIONS of low income workers are among the winners of this year's Budget, while smokers and savers are set to lose out.

    The Chancellor couldn't please everyone in his 2021 Autumn Budget, and while low income earners will enjoy a pay rise and drives will see a fuel duty increase scrapped, others are set to lose out.

    Rishi Sunak today delivered his second Budget of the year, making his speech to the House of Commons to outline the Government's spending plans.

    The Budget covers everything to do with the nation's finances including tax changes for the coming year.

    And with a huge post-pandemic bill to pay, many people were braced for bad news.

    Read more here.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Keir Starmer 'absolutely gutted' to miss Budget speech

    Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was "absolutely gutted" to miss the Budget after testing positive for coronavirus but accused the Chancellor of doing "nothing" in his fiscal statement to tackle the rising cost of living.

    In a video posted on Twitter, Sir Keir said: "I was absolutely gutted to test positive for Covid just before PMQs and just before the Budget response.

    "I'm fine but it is obviously important we all follow the rules.

    "But wasn't Ed Miliband at PMQs and Rachel Reeves in the Budget response just brilliant?

    "Both of them stepped up at short notice – very short notice – to absolutely call out the Government for their failure on the climate crisis and to hammer the Chancellor on his smoke and mirror Budget which does nothing for working people and nothing about the cost-of-living crisis.

    "I'll now be working from home but if you have symptoms or any cause for concern, please get tested to stop the spread of this virus."

  • Joseph Gamp

    Social care providers 'left out in cold' by Budget

    Social care providers will be "left out in the cold" this winter by a lack of measures in the Budget to address the sector's growing crisis, groups have warned.

    English councils will receive £4.8 billion of new grant funding over the next three years for social care and other services, which the Government said represents the largest annual increase in local government core funding in more than a decade.

    It is in addition to the previously announced £5.4 billion for social care, to be raised by a hike in national insurance contributions from April, as well as an immediate £162.5 million fund to help the sector recruit and retain staff.

    Charities and care groups said the new funding is "nowhere near enough" to keep social care afloat as it heads into a challenging winter while experiencing staffing shortages and increased demand.

    Care England, which represents independent providers of adult social care, said there will be "serious and far-reaching consequences".

  • Joseph Gamp

    Rishi blamed problems of rising inflation on 'global re-opening'

    Rishi Sunak also acknowledged the problems of rising inflation in his speech today, blaming it on the global reopening of economies following the pandemic.

    He promised further action to address strained supply chains with tax breaks for HGVs and investment in lorry parks.

    The OBR said international supply-chain bottlenecks had been "exacerbated by changes in the migration and trading regimes following Brexit" in the UK.

    The Budget follows the Government's decision to increase National Insurance contributions by 1.25 percentage points from April to help fund the NHS and social care and previously announced hikes in corporation tax rates.

    The OBR said the changes announced by Mr Sunak amounted to a "significant discretionary increase in both the tax burden and the size of the post-pandemic state".

    Mr Sunak had raised taxes by more in his two 2021 Budgets than in any single year since 1993 in the aftermath of Black Wednesday.

  • Joseph Gamp

    'Employment is up. Investment is growing'

    Mr Sunak told MPs: "Employment is up. Investment is growing. Public services are improving. The public finances are stabilising. And wages are rising."

    He promised "help for working families with the cost of living", with the OBR expecting CPI inflation to reach 4.4% but warning it could go further and hit "the highest rate seen in the UK for three decades".

    The Chancellor was given some leeway for greater spending as a result of an improved economic outlook, with the OBR predicting the economy will return to its pre-Covid level at the turn of the year.

    It also reduced the estimate of the long-term "scarring" caused by the pandemic from 3% of gross domestic product, a measure of the size of the economy, to 2%.

    The economy is forecast to grow 6.5% this year instead of the 4% expected in March.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Tax burden to reach 70-year high

    The tax burden will reach its highest level since the early 1950s as Rishi Sunak boosts public spending and takes action to address the rising cost of living.

    The Chancellor reaped the benefits of a stronger-than-expected recovery from the economic hit of Covid-19, using his Budget to set out increases in departmental spending and help for people on low incomes.

    The Chancellor pledged a major increase in Whitehall budgets, tax cuts for businesses, and investment to create a "new economy" based on high skills and wages following the pandemic.

    But the moves come on top of previously-announced increases in corporate and personal taxation, which the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said would leave the overall tax burden at its highest since the final period of Clement Attlee's post-war administration 70 years ago.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Tate director praises arts sector tax relief

    Maria Balshaw, director of the Tate art museums and galleries and chairwoman of the National Museum Directors Council, praised the tax relief extension for the arts and culture sector in the Budget.

    She said: "It's great to hear the Government showing such strong support for the arts.

    "I'm particularly grateful to see the extension of tax relief that has already made a huge difference for the sector and much-needed investment in the public museum buildings which make up such a vital part of our cultural infrastructure.

    "As we emerge from the pandemic, national museums like Tate and our powerful regional museums can and will play a transformative role in cities and towns throughout the country.

    "The UK-wide ecology of museums and galleries will be essential for rebuilding social wellbeing and inspiring new generations of visitors."

  • Milica Cosic

    Key budget announcements

    Here are the key Budget announcements you may have missed:

    • A wage boost for millions of public sector workers as the pay freeze is scrapped
    • A freeze of HGV tax to help end the supply crisis
    • A rise in the minimum wage to £9.50 in a hike for two million Brits
    • A further £6bn to clear the NHS backlog that's groaning after lockdown
    • A new £5bn pot for research and development into health
    • A £2bn boost to build houses on brownfield land equivalent to 2,000 footie pitches
    • A £3bn skills funding with more bootcamp places for youngsters
    • Half a billion pounds to sharpen up maths skills for 500,000 adults
    • Funding for up to 8,000 new sports pitches and 300 scout huts
    • A culture boost with £850m pumped into museums and galleries
    • An extra £435m to cut crime with more CCTV, street lights and help for victims
    • A further £700m to bolster border controls and fund a fleet to patrol migrant boats

    Breakdown of the booze duty changes

    Here is a breakdown of the alcohol duty changes.

    Mr Sunak said a pint of beer will be cut by 3p and this will take effect from tonight.

    There's no better day than Wednesday to go off to the boozer. We'll see you there *wink*!

    • Milica Cosic

      Major boost for struggling pubs

      British boozers were handed a major lifeline today as Rishi Sunak slashed business rates.

      The major shake-up – the biggest in 30 years – will see the hospitality, retail and leisure industry given a 50 per cent discount.

      The Chancellor said the new system, which applies up to £110,000, is a "simpler and fairer" way of doing things.

      Mr Sunak said: "This will directly support the home of British community life for centuries: pubs.

      "Even before the pandemic, pubs were struggling: between 2000 and 2019, consumption in the on-trade fell by 40 per cent.

      "And many public health bodies recognise that pubs are often safer drinking environments than being at home.

      "So, as the Members for Dudley South and North West Durham will agree, a fairer, healthier system supports pubs."

    • Milica Cosic

      How do the alcohol duty changes affect me?

      Lower strength alcohol, such as some beers, rose wine and fruit cider, will be taxed less – and that will make it cheaper for customers in pubs or supermarkets alike.

      It means that a pint of Guinness will cost £4.20 in a pub – with 3p less tax.

      A 440ml can of Strongbow will cost around 61p in a shop, with 0.5p less tax, while the same beer poured as a pint down your local will be £3.50 per pint with 2p less tax.

       Duty rates for all alcoholic drinks will be frozen, so for you that means you'll get:

      • 3p off a pint of beer
      • 2p off a pint of cider,
      • 14p off a 75cl bottle of wine
      • 52p off a 70cl bottle of Scotch

      But high strength booze will cost more.

      A new business rates revamp

      RISHI Sunak announced an overhaul of business rates in today's Autumn Budget 2021.

      Companies – particularly high street retailers – have repeatedly called for an overhaul of the system, complaining that it's outdated and unfair.

      Today, the Chancellor ignored calls from some businesses and lobbying groups to scrap the tax altogether.

      But he did say the government will reduce the burden of business rates in England by £7bn over the next five years.

      Read more here.

      Everything you need to know about alcohol duty changes

      Rishi Sunak has announced a major shake-up on alcohol duty in his latest Budget announcement.

      In his speech this afternoon, Mr Sunak said a pint of beer will be cut by 3p from tonight.

      It's because under the reforms, drinks will be taxed in proportion to their alcohol content, with beer having a lower alcohol content than a number of other popular boozy beverages.

      Draught Relief is also to be introduced.

      There will be a cut to the 28% premium on sparkling wines and the duty paid on fruit ciders.

      Read the article in full here.

      Massive UC shake-up so 2 million can keep an extra £1,000 a year

      MILLIONS of Brits on Universal Credit WILL be able to keep more of what they earn, Rishi Sunak confirmed today.

      It will mean two million families will keep, on average, an extra £1,000 a year.

      Rishi said today: "To make sure work pays, and help some of the lowest income families in the country keep more of their hard-earned money… …I have decided to cut this Rate, not by 1%, not by 2% – but by 8 per cent.

      "This is a tax cut next year worth over £2bn. Nearly 2 million families will keep, on average, an extra £1,000 a year.

      "Changes like this normally take effect at the start of the new tax year in April. But I want to help people right now.

      "So we’ll introduce this within weeks, and no later than December 1st."

      He claimed a single mum of two renting a home and working full time on the minimum wage would be better off by £1,200.

      'Today’s Budget sends a clear message'

      Health Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: "Today's Budget sends a clear message – recovery and reform of health & care an absolute priority.

      He also thanked Rishi Sunak for backing plans including to "tackle the backlog, fix social care and keep the UK at the forefront of research and development".

      • Milica Cosic

        The budget at glance

        In case you missed it, here are the most important facts pulled from the budget today.

      • Milica Cosic

        Rachel Reeves accuses Chancellor of failing to tackle the 'huge issues'

        Rachel Reeves has accused Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, of failing to tackle the "huge issue" that is "adapting to climate change".

        She told MPs: "Adapting to climate change presents opportunities, more jobs, lower bills and cleaner air. But only if we act now and if we act at scale. According to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), failure to act will mean public sector debt to explode later: it is nearly 300% of GDP.

        "The only way to be a prudent and responsible Chancellor is to be a green Chancellor, to invest in a transition to a zero carbon economy and give British businesses a head start in the industry of the future."

        Instead, Ms Reeves insisted home owners are left to face the cost of insulation on their own, and industries like steel and hydrogen are "in a global race but without the support they need".

      • Milica Cosic

        Gov needed to go "further and faster" on minimum wage

        Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, has welcomed the increase in the minimum wage, however has said the Government needed to go "further and faster" and should have moved to a rise of at least £10 an hour.

        She welcomed the end of the "punitive" public sector pay freeze, but said: "We know how much this Chancellor likes his smoke and mirrors so we'll be checking the books to make sure the money is there for a real terms pay rise."

        Ms Reeves welcomed the reduction of the Universal Credit taper rate from 63p to 55p but warned working people receiving the benefit "still face a higher marginal tax rate than the Prime Minister".

        She added: "Those unable to work through no fault of their own still face losing £1,000 a year."

      • Milica Cosic

        Labour say struggling families will believe Rishi's "living in a parallel universe"

        Struggling families will believe Rishi Sunak is "living in a parallel universe" following his Budget, Labour has said.

        Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told the Commons: "Families struggling with a cost-of-living crisis, businesses hit by a supply chain crisis, those who rely on our schools and hospitals and our police… they won't recognise the world the Chancellor is describing.

        "They will think he is living in a parallel universe."

        Rachel Reeves also told MPs: "The Chancellor in this Budget has decided to cut taxes for banks.

        "So at least the bankers on short-haul flights sipping champagne will be cheering this Budget today."

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