RISHI Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer and MP for Richmond yesterday announced a VAT cut and stamp duty holiday to help get the economy going again after the coronavirus lockdown.

The Chancellor announced that stamp duty would be scrapped temporarily for the first £500,000.

He also pledged £30bn to help save jobs, which will include £1,000 job retention bonus for every furloughed worker that is brought back and employed until the end of January and a £2bn Kickstart Scheme.

Jonathan Walker, assistant director of policy, North East England Chamber of Commerce said: “We had called for an economic intervention that recognised the potential for this crisis to entrench regional disparities. The Chancellor’s statement contained a number of measures that will provide short-term boosts to parts of our economy, but we continue to be dismayed at the lack of detail when it comes to long-term action to ‘level up’ regions such as ours.

“It was good to see the Chancellor acknowledge how hard the impact of the pandemic has been, and will continue to be, on young people in the early stages of their working lives.

"We hope the measures are effective in enabling them to be prepared for good quality jobs but to work effectively the Kickstarter scheme must not be overly bureaucratic or confusing. The £1,000 for returnees will help some firms but we are concerned this level of funding will be insufficient to make a real difference to a business in financial difficulty.

“Getting people spending in our great hospitality and leisure businesses is essential, but when this sector remains so vulnerable to further lockdowns we would like to see specific support to help them become as safe and resilient as possible.

“In essence the Chancellor’s Statement is too short on long-term strategy. He promised that Government was taking these issues seriously but with business confidence extremely fragile we cannot afford to wait too long for action."

Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman, said: “We’ve always said that the Chancellor should take a jobs first approach to today’s intervention and that’s exactly what he’s done.

“The Chancellor is absolutely right to stress that the job of getting the economy back on its feet has only just begun.

“Will this set of measures be enough to spur activity over the coming weeks? That’s something that will need to be kept under close review – we may need further action before the autumn.

“The key now is making sure these positive new measures work for all, especially the small firms that make-up 99% of our business community and employ 17 million people.

“The job retention bonus must be easy to access. We can’t have paperwork holding up this vital support.

“We pushed for incentives to take on apprenticeships and it’s good to see those delivered today.

“The funding and subsidies for apprenticeships, kickstarter roles and traineeships also need to be accessible. Young people are looking for work now.

“A VAT cut for food, accommodation and attraction businesses alongside the ‘eat out to help out’ initiative marks a critical step forward. We look forward to collaborating with policymakers on the latter to ensure that those who are deserving don’t miss out. The Treasury should now assess how it can build on this progress, taking another look at our regressive business rates system once we get to the autumn.

“The focus on green jobs and infrastructure is encouraging to see. Making small firms a central part this push will be critical to its success and local growth. Our late payment crisis has worsened throughout lockdown and we need to see government taking a zero tolerance approach on this front: if you can’t pay on time, you don’t win public contracts.

“Equally we need to know that green vouchers and incentives will be extended to small business premises as well households.

“Whilst the majority of small businesses have been supported by the Chancellor’s emergency measures, some have not. We need the Government to spell out how it will help the newly self-employed and company directors who have once again been overlooked this afternoon, and have now been left without help for more than 100 days during this incredibly difficult period. That fact should be recognised once we reach the autumn.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “The support Rishi has set out for jobs and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic has been exceptional and unprecedented and the bold measures he has announced today will further help us with our recovery.

“Rishi is right to make creating and supporting jobs his number one priority when it comes to our recovery. My plans for jobs in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool will see us create good quality, high skilled local jobs for local people.

“His package of support for hospitality businesses will also be welcome. Our pubs, restaurants bars, hotels and venues are hugely important. That is why I launched my Welcome Back Fund to provide grants for these businesses and protect local workers and welcome people back into our amazing pubs and restaurants.

“The support for apprentices is also welcome. I have already offered almost £1 million to fund the salaries of more than 100 apprenticeships so we can make sure that our talented young people across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool are starting off on the road to a successful career despite the uncertainty businesses are currently experiencing.

“This has been a tough time for everyone but our comeback is on, and we will come back bigger, better and stronger than ever before.”