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Maidenhead firms react to Chancellor's budget

An extension to the furlough scheme and more support for self-employed workers was announced by the Chancellor in his annual budget.

Rishi Sunak is seeking to steady an economy heavy in debt and recovering from the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses and figures in the Maidenhead area have reacted to the Chancellor’s landmark budget, announced earlier this afternoon (Wednesday).

The Government has said that it will carry on paying 80 per cent of the wages for people who are on furlough, until September.

Two more grants will be made available for the self-employed through a Coronavirus Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Claims can be made for a fourth grant worth 80 per cent of three months’ average trading profits, up to £7,500 in total, from next month.

This will then be followed by a fifth grant later in the year, covering May to September.

Mike Miller, president of the Maidenhead Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Government recognises it has got another four months to go before everything really opens up again and what they are going to try and do is protect businesses as much as they can – that includes the self-employed.”

In property, the Chancellor pledged to help first-time buyers have access to a range of mortgages that require lower deposits.

The stamp duty tax holiday will also be extended from March until June 30, which means this tax is not paid on the first £500,000 of a property until then.

Geoff Tomlinson, managing director at Braxton estate agents in Maidenhead, hopes this will lead to more people looking to buy.

“The stamp duty holiday will protect a pipeline of sales that are going through that would never have made it before March. That is a real bonus,” Geoff said. “There could be a real rush of people trying to purchase now.”

He added: “I think the market has held up very well locally. Windsor and Maidenhead is an area that has a lot to offer.”

Mark Newcombe is chairman of the managing committee at the Craufurd Arms pub, in Gringer Hill.

He welcomed parts of the budget, including a Government ‘restart grant’ for hospitality and retail.

Under plans, £5billion will be ploughed into this sector to help it reopen, worth up to £6,000 for non-essential retailers and £18,000 for hospitality.

Mark said that the Craufurd could benefit from an extra £680 a week through the scheme.

A £150million Community Ownership Fund will help community groups buy or take over assets at risk of being lost, Sunak also announced.

Mark praised the extension to furlough, but claimed ‘we want to get people back working as soon as we can’.

However, the Craufurd boss was disappointed that a VAT cut on food and non-alcoholic drinks did not extend to alcohol, meaning this particular change would not benefit wet-led pubs.

“Because the hospitality trade is such a diverse industry, there are good points, and there are bad points [in the budget],” Mark said.

Corporation tax will rise from 2023 in an effort by the Government to claw money back as the UK continues its battle with the pandemic.

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