Equity reacts to Spring Budget

In response to the Chancellor's announcement of the Spring Budget, with the extension of the coronavirus government support schemes and additional support for cultural institutions, Equity's General Secretary Paul W Fleming has issued the following statement.

"Today's budget neither actively harms nor actively helps Equity members who were abandoned by the Chancellor in March 2020. The news about the extension of the SEISS scheme cannot be anything other than welcome, but does nothing for those excluded in part or entirely from furlough and SEISS. The minor tweak of inclusion of the 2019 tax year is something, particularly for newer entrants to our industry, but no back payment for a year of no support is a slap in the face.

"The news for the industry is equally stale – a crumb into a cultural recovery fund which isn't fit for purpose. It's also offensive that it was trailed two days before the budget as a fig leaf for the bad news which it contained. Our industries are worth as much to the UK economy as banking, and deserve serious support, conveyed in a serious way, at the heart of the government's recovery plan.

"If Rishi Sunak wanted to truly take centre stage, he wouldn't be treating Equity's members and the creative industries like a sideshow."

SUMMARY OF SPRING BUDGET

Covid support for workers:

  • Furlough will be extended at 80% until the end of September, with employers contributing 10% in July and 20% in August and September
  • SEISS will continue until September. A fourth grant will cover February to April and a fifth grant May to September - Equity is seeking clarification on the fifth grant, given it covers a 5 month period instead of a 3 month period.
    • The fourth grant will be at 80% and the fifth grant will open for applications in late July, but will only be set at 80% for those able to demonstrate 30% turnover loss or more. Those showing less than 30% loss will receive a grant at 30% of profits
    • Newly self employed will now qualify with a 2019/20 tax return and receive the fourth and fifth grants
  • The Universal Credit uplift will continue for another 6 months
  • Working Tax Credit support will be given for 6 months in a one off payment of £500

Covid support for arts and culture:

  • Re-start grants of up to £6000 will be available for premises, and up to £18,000 for leisure and hospitality
  • A £700m total package of support will be given to arts, culture and sporting institutions including new apprenticeships in the creative industries
  • Businesses of any size will be able to apply for loans from £25,000 up to £10m 
  • The business rates holiday for leisure sector will continue until June, then for the next 9 months there will be a discount of 2/3 up to a value of £2m for closed businesses
  • The 5% reduced rate of VAT will be extended to 30 September for hospitality, followed by 6 months at 12.5%
  • Duties for alcohol will be frozen for another year
  • A new £150m fund will be created for communities to buy pubs and theatres at risk​

Tax and other revenue raising measures:

  • The personal tax threshold will be raised and then frozen at £12,570 and the higher level at £50,270 until April 2026
  • The VAT registration threshold will remain at £85k
  • The HMRC taskforce is to clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion
  • In 2023 Corporation tax will increase to 25%. This will not take effect until April 2023 and a small profits rate of 19% will apply for those with profits less than £50k, with a taper above £50k. Only businesses with £250k profits + will pay 25%
  • Changes to the tax treatment of losses will mean businesses will be able to carry back losses of up to £2m for up to 2 years