Today we will be officially told what the March 2021 Budget will include by Rishi Sunak and presumably with support from Jesses Norman who is the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. This budget is intended to cover the next 12months for all of us including businesses. Over the last few days a significant number of details have been published outside of Parliament which seems very strange given that Budgets are supposed to be presented first and foremost to Parliament. One of the elements that was disclosed in the last few days was that the Furlough arrangement is going to extend to September. However a question that was asked a couple of weeks ago by the Crawley MP, Henry Smith has not emerged in the news I have seen. So will they include the bonus decision today? On the 16th February Jesse Norman answered a written question that had been presented earlier by Henry Smith under the title of Job Retention Bonus or JRB.
Henry Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will reintroduce the Job Retention Bonus at an increased rate of £6,000 per employee retained in the business who have either been fully or part-time furloughed.
Jesse Norman: The objective of the Job Retention Bonus (JRB) was to incentivise employers to retain employees between November, when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was due to end, and the end of January through a £1,000 bonus paid to the employer. However, the subsequent extension of the CJRS allowed employers to retain their staff during that period by covering 80% of furloughed employees’ wages. Given this extension to the end of April, the policy intent of the JRB falls away.
The Government remains committed to deploying a retention incentive set at a suitable level, at the appropriate time.
After all given that up until this weekend the furlough scheme was due to end at the end of April, to ask for some indications 10 weeks ahead would certainly have made sense, but even though the CJRS is now going to extend to the end of September, it would nevertheless make sense for the Government to have a clear plan for all businesses to be aware of. This will be something that would help businesses to understand what the consequences would look like for them over the next year which is what budgets are supposed to do.