Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak faces big questions over taxes, minimum wage and cost of living

Asia's Tech News Daily

Rishi Sunak’s Budget and spending review on Monday is a crucial moment for the Government, intended to set a new course for the future as Britain emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak faces big questions over taxes, minimum wage and cost of living
© Provided by The i Rishi Sunak is delivering the Budget on Wednesday (Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters)

The Chancellor will present new estimates for the public finances in the light of the economic recovery, while also explaining how he intends to avert a severe squeeze on the cost of living.

New taxes

When Mr Sunak and Boris Johnson announced the new health and social care levy, they suggested that a major change to the taxation system was unlikely at the Budget. But the Chancellor must still set the level of fuel duty, tobacco tax and alcohol duty – all of which could rise to help fill the hole in the public finances.

Cost of living

Inflation is forecast to rise as high as 5 per cent, driven partly by huge increases in the global cost of energy. The Treasury wants to start putting higher taxes on gas bills and lower levies on electricity, but doing so now would make the squeeze even worse. Mr Sunak is under pressure to offer additional support to those worst affected.

Science future

Reports this week suggest the Chancellor will not increase spending on research and development as quickly as was previously planned, which would be a blow to the Prime Minister’s dreams of boosting productivity after Brexit.

Minimum wage

The national living wage, paid to all workers aged 25 and over, is expected to rise to £9.42 an hour in line with the recommendation of the Government’s independent advisers. The move would be unpopular with business but would help bolster Mr Johnson’s rhetoric about a “high-wage, high-skill economy”.

Public-sector pay

Mr Sunak has signalled he is ready to end the current freeze on pay for most public-sector workers, but if he forces Whitehall departments to fund any increase from their existing budgets his Cabinet colleagues may need to make cutbacks elsewhere.

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