In Wednesday’s budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the furlough scheme and Universal Credit as part of a £65 billion investment in economy.

Taxes on business profits are set to rise from 2023 while income tax thresholds will be frozen, meaning more than a million extra people will pay this as wages increase.

He signalled an investment in digital skills for business with a set of UK-wide “Help to Grow” schemes, to offer access to management training and to provide online training to firms.

The Chancellor said: “Becoming a scientific superpower is something we can be - I don’t think that’s hubristic or unrealistic. I’m providing an extra £1.6 billion today to continue the rollout and improve our future preparedness. And I want to make the UK the best place in the world for high growth, innovative companies.”


The Chancellor said: “I’m doubling the incentive payments we give businesses to £3,000 - that’s for all new hires, of any age.”

Two ‘Help to Grow’ initiatives (£520 million investment)

Chancellor said these schemes will help SMEs become ‘more innovative, more competitive, more profitable’ by adopting digital technology and management training.

Help to Grow: Digital

This Autumn, small businesses will be able to get free impartial advice on how technology can boost their performance through a new online platform.

Eligible businesses will also be able to get a discount of up to 50% on the costs of approved software, worth up to £5,000. Vouchers are initially expected to be available for software that helps businesses:

  • build customer relationships and increase sales
  • make the most of selling online
  • manage their accounts and finances digitally

Help to Grow: Management

Again from Autumn, MBA-style management training will be offered to SMEs with the aim of increasing innovation and boosting growth. Business schools across the UK will provide 50 hours of tuition in addition to one-on-one support with a business mentor, to ‘build the skills of SME leaders’.

View the full details of both Grow schemes

Summary of other key headlines:

  • Extended the stamp duty holiday for properties less than £500,000 until the end of June, then a new £250,000 threshold will apply until the end of September before the £125,000 starting point is reintroduced.
  • Confirmed the extension of the furlough scheme until the end of September, although employers will be expected to make a contribution from July.
  • Extended the 5% reduced rate of VAT for the tourism and hospitality sector to the end of September, with an interim rate of 12.5% for another six months after that.
  • Continued the business rates holiday for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors until the end of June, with a two-thirds discount for the remaining nine months of the year.
  • Announced the temporary £20-a-week increase in Universal Credit payments will continue for a further six months.
  • Set out a new Recovery Loan Scheme to replace previous coronavirus loan packages, allowing businesses of any size to apply for loans from £25,000 up to £10 million through to the end of the year, with the Government providing lenders with an 80% guarantee.
  • Froze all alcohol duties for the second year in a row and scrapped a planned increase in fuel duty.
  • Announced eight new freeports in England, special economic zones with rules making it cheaper and easier to do business.
  • Revealed a new “economic campus” for the Treasury and other Whitehall departments in Darlington.