In the UK, the annual budget statement is the Parliamentary event of the year for the British public.
This year, it took place on Wednesday, March 3:
In the old days, many people bought a newspaper the following day for the details on taxes.
Now everything is online and many more people are tuning in to one of the two Parliamentary channels to watch proceedings.
Why is this so important? As Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak says, this involves taxpayers’ money. It’s not the government’s, it’s ours:
This year, he held the first-ever press conference on the budget:
Here is a bit of history on the UK budget:
In modern times, the Chancellor displays his ministerial red box for an obligatory photo op before going to Parliament:
Despite what the Opposition said on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak put in a lot of work, including television interviews:
He held an online meeting with those most affected by the coronavirus lockdown and the loss of income:
No one could have imagined that when he gave his first budget, on March 11, 2020, one that was full of optimism and big plans, how things would change within one year:
By the way, the projected coronavirus spending for this year should fall dramatically compared with 2020:
On the day the Chancellor lays out the budget, the Chairman of the Ways and Means committee presides, rather than the Speaker of the House.
Since last year’s budget, Dame Eleanor Laing, also a Deputy Speaker of the House, was appointed to head this committee:
In the next video, the delightful Dame Eleanor explains what the budget is and how it is debated in Parliament after the Chancellor presents it:
Coronavirus has brought its own challenges. Normally, every MP packs into the Commons for the budget. This year, socially distancing was enforced. Most MPs participated in the initial debate virtually:
Here she is with her team. Masks are obligatory on the Parliamentary estate these days:
This is the video of the coverage as it happened. Click to watch it:
Below are the highlights.
Much of it concerns economic recovery from the pandemic:
Most taxes are frozen for now as well as personal tax thresholds:
There will also be a new taskforce to help prevent fraud in coronavirus claims:
These are designed to fit around Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap to exit the coronavirus crisis:
There will be help for small-to-medium businesses:
And help for technology businesses:
There is a new visa programme to attract the brightest and best talent:
I do hope that our education system is improved so that we do not need to keep looking abroad for talent. Only 30 years ago, Britain’s schools were among the best in the world. How times have changed.
You can get more detail about the budget from The Telegraph. One thing to note is that the inheritance tax threshold has not changed since 2009. It is still £325,000 per person.
Finally, in an exciting post-EU development, the Chancellor announced eight new Freeports, where favourable customs rules and tax reliefs will apply, furthering trade with other nations:
Teesside will also be the new ‘campus’ for the UK’s treasury, just up the road from the Chancellor:
The hospitality industry, which has been closed since December — and longer in some places with regional lockdowns — welcomed the budget measures:
The director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) was also satisfied:
I am cautiously optimistic, but I felt so much happier with the 2020 budget, when we were on top of the world.
For Labour and the SNP, the spending didn’t go far enough. However, as Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female Prime Minister and a Conservative, said in 1983:
Rishi Sunak is attempting to navigate Britain’s worst financial crisis since the early 1700s.
Let’s hope his plan works.