This is when the Budget will be announced today - and what Chancellor Rishi Sunak might say

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 8:16 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 12:34 pm

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to unveil the UK Government’s spending plan in the 2021 Budget today (Wednesday 3 March).

In the annual statement, Mr Sunak is expected to reveal plans surrounding the furlough scheme, the fourth self-employed grant, the stamp duty holiday and the Universal Credit uplift.

Last year’s Budget became known as the “coronavirus Budget” due to the measures the chancellor put in place to support workers and businesses through the pandemic.

Mr Sunak will be under pressure to set out how he will protect jobs as restrictions continue after nearly a year.

Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s spring Budget, including what time it will be announced.

What time will the Budget be announced?

Mr Sunak will unveil this year’s spring Budget on Wednesday 3 March 2021.

That is almost a year after he announced his first ever Budget on 11 March last year, after replacing Sajid Javid as chancellor just weeks before it was due.

The chancellor’s statement will take place in the House of Commons after Prime Minister’s Questions, which usually begins at midday and lasts for half an hour.

Mr Sunak will therefore be speaking at around 12:30pm, unless PMQs overruns.

The Budget statement typically lasts for around an hour.

The chancellor will then hold a press conference following his announcement in a Budget first, which will take place at 5pm on Wednesday evening.

You can watch the announcement live on Parliament TV, or via BBC iPlayer and Sky News’ YouTube channel.

What could Rishi Sunak announce?

The annual Budget usually includes statements on pay, taxes, benefits and other financial issues.

The 2020 Budget was very different to other years, as Mr Sunak unveiled a host of specific measures aimed at helping people through the coronavirus lockdown.

That included the furlough scheme and self-employed grants.

As restrictions are still in place and will run beyond March, it is expected that the 2021 Budget will again focus on giving financial support to those affected by the pandemic.

The chancellor is set to address at four themes - "support, vision, recovery, honesty" - when he makers his annual statement.

Speaking in January, Mr Sunak said: "Since the start of the pandemic we've invested over £280 billion to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK and support our economy and public services.

"This has clearly been the fiscally responsible thing to do. But as I've said before, once our economy begins to recover, we should look to return the public finances to a more sustainable footing."

Will there be more details of the fourth SEISS grant?

Self-employed people have been anticipating an announcement on the fourth SEISS grant, which covers the months of February to April.

It is one of the coronavirus financial support packages Mr Sunak is expected to focus on in his March statement.

It will be worth 80 per cent of three months’ average trading profits up to £7,500, and there will also be details of a fifth grant.

Hundreds of thousands more people will also be eligible for the grants this time around.

Could the furlough scheme be extended?

The Job Retention Scheme was due to end in April 2021, but the chancellor will now extend it until the end of September.

Mr Sunak had been facing pressure to extend the scheme again, since coronavirus restrictions are scheduled to continue into the hotter months.

The furlough scheme was extended in December 2020 after it was clear that coronavirus restrictions would need to continue into the new year.

So far, the Job Retention Scheme has protected 11 million jobs across the UK with more than one million businesses accessing loans to help them through the crisis.

What about the stamp duty holiday?

The stamp duty holiday is also coming to an end on 31 March.

Both buyers and sellers have called for the six-month tax break, introduced to boost the property market during the coronavirus crisis, to be extended beyond that date.

Many people have been racing to complete their purchases before the holiday expires.

Experts have predicted that the end of the scheme could see house prices decrease exponentially.

The Times recently reported that Mr Sunak could extend the stamp duty holiday by up to three months until the end of June.

That would bring the deadline in line with the proposed date for the rest of lockdown restrictions being lifted.

Could taxes increase?

The government has spent more than £200billion on tackling the pandemic, which will have to be paid for somehow.

To do this, taxes could be increased.

The Tories promised in their 2019 manifesto not to raise Income Tax, VAT or National Insurance, but that was before the pandemic.

Last year, Mr Sunak repeatedly refused to rule out any tax rises, and several recent reports have suggested that the chancellor has looked at tax increases for the upcoming Budget.

But there has been some speculation that any tax rises are likely to be delayed to a future Budget announcement.

Instead, the chancellor is expected to focus on further financial support for people and businesses during coronavirus.

Could the Universal Credit uplift be extended?

Claimants who receive Universal Credit have been given a weekly £20 increase during the pandemic, but the government said the rise was “temporary”.

As restrictions are set to continue, the Treasury has come under pressure from MPs, charities and members of the public to extend the uplift, worth £1,040 per year, past the end of March.

Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee said hundreds of thousands of people could be plunged into poverty if it isn’t extended.

ITV’s Robert Peston has reported that the chancellor is planning to extend the uplift by six months.