The Chancellor Rishi Sunak will give an ‘economic update’ to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon.
The oral statement is set to begin at 3.30pm, on the same afternoon that Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to hold a press conference on vaccinations.
Britain’s economy has been battered by coronavirus and the Chancellor has been forced to make a series of unprecedented interventions throughout the pandemic in an effort to reduce the damage.
Today, the Chancellor struck an upbeat tone about the city’s chances of ‘Big Bang 2.0, as he hit back at criticism of the Brexit trade deal. Discussing the recovery of the financial sector, Mr Sunak told City AM: ‘If you look at the history of the City… it has always constantly innovated, adapted and evolved to changing circumstances and thrived and prospered as a result. And I think it will continue to do that.’
It is not clear what Mr Sunak will say today. Last month, he extended the Furlough scheme until April as the UK continues to be one of the worst-hit economies from the Covid-19 crisis.
It comes as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called on the Government to put families ‘first’ during the latest lockdown, demanding ministers protect epidemic-hit households budgets from council tax hikes and cuts to Universal Credit.
Labour analysis suggests that a 5% council tax rise – permitted after Mr Sunak signalled the go-ahead during his Spending Review for council tax and the social care levy to be hiked by 2% and 3% respectively – for those living in a band D property would see bills increase by an average of £90 in April.
Stopping the planned April cut in Universal Credit would put an extra £1,000 in the pockets of six million families, the party also claimed.
Sir Keir is also pressing for key workers, such as teachers, the armed forces and care workers, to be given pay rises.
‘This is the Government that gave Dominic Cummings a £40,000 pay rise but won’t pay our carers a decent wage,’ he is expected to say.
Meanwhile, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband, commenting on a survey from the Federation of Small Businesses which suggests at least 250,000 UK small businesses are set to fold without further help from government, said: ‘The message from businesses is clear: support is not remotely equal to the scale of the emergency.
‘Many are excluded, grants do not properly cover the costs facing firms, businesses are staring at fast approaching cliff-edges in support and there is a massive issue of the debt burden they have accumulated.
‘The Government’s approach throughout this crisis means the UK is already facing the worst crisis of any major economy. Rishi Sunak must start listening to the businesses fighting for survival and come up with a proper plan for the months ahead which matches the gravity of the crisis.’
The Government insists it has made unprecedented interventions to help the British economy and is supporting those in need of financial help.
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