What Rishi Sunak’s new budget means for people in Greater Manchester
Everything you need to know
Rishi Sunak has said he wants to be honest about the government’s plans for fixing the public finances.
The chancellor says there has been ‘acute damage’ to the economy, with more than 700,000 people losing jobs and the economy shrinking by 10% – the largest fall in 300 years.
Borrowing has also been as high as during wartime.
He said: “It’s going to take this country, and the whole world, a long time to recover from this extraordinary situation.”
Here are the key points from his 2021 budget announcement….
- Sunak explains that 1.8 million fewer people are expected to be out of work than previously thought, with the peak at 6.5% down from the forecasted peak of 11.9%.
- Furlough is set to be extended until the end of September this year, however, firms will be asked to contribute 10% of employee’s wages in July and 20% in August and September as the scheme is gradually phased out.
- A fourth grant worth 80% of average trading profits up to £7,500 covering February to April that will help self-employed people.
- The £20 increase in universal credit will extend for six months
- Total cash support to businesses has reached £25bn. A further £5bn restart grant has now been confirmed to help companies get going after lockdown.
- Hospitality and leisure businesses will pay no business rates for three months, then discounted for the remaining nine months of the year by two-thirds.
- The 5% VAT cut will be extended to the end of September and gradually increased at 12.5% for six months before returning to the normal rate in April 2022.
- The stamp duty holiday will be extended on properties up to £500,000 to the end of June. It will return to normal levels from October 1st.
- Mortgage guarantees were also confirmed to help first-time buyers access 95% mortgages, with just 5% deposits.
- The government will take a ‘fair’ approach to ‘fixing the public finances’ the chancellor confirms.
- There will be no increase in national insurance, income tax or VAT.
- The personal allowance will remain at £12,750 until 2026 and the higher rate will increase to £50,270 next year.
- Inheritance tax threshold, pensions lifetime allowance, annual exempt allowance from capital gains tax and VAT exemption thresholds will all be frozen.
- New minimum wage rates come into force in England on April 1st. Basic rate workers will see a 2.2% increase, with the National Living Wage rising to £8.91 an hour.
- The budget deficit will reach £355billion this year (17% of GDP) – the highest level in peacetime.
- Sunak said: “It’s going to be the work of many governments over many decades to pay it back, just as it would be irresponsible to withdraw support too soon, it would also be irresponsible to allow our future borrowing and debt to rise unchecked.”
- The chancellor explains that the economy will recover more quickly than previously thought.
- GDP will grow by 4% this year and 7.3% next year according to official forecasts.
Woman tragically dies in Manchester petrol station incident
Emergency services attended the scene but the woman was sadly confirmed dead
An elderly woman has died following a crash at a petrol station in Manchester.
Officers believe the woman, who was in her 70s, suffered a medical episode while at the wheel of her car when she crashed into a small brick wall.
She had been trying to drive the Nissan Micra off the forecourt of the Asda petrol station in Moston Lane, Harpurhey, at approximately 10.45am on Wednesday, March 22nd.
Emergency services attended the scene but the woman was sadly confirmed dead. Greater Manchester Police have appealed for any witnesses to help them.
A section of stretch of road, near the junction with Rochdale Road, was closed for a number of hours while emergency services dealt with the incident. Paramedics and two air ambulances were seen.
Anyone with information or on the forecourt at the time of the incident should contact police on 0161 856 4741 quoting log 1103-22/3/2023.
Information can also be reported online or by using the LiveChat function at www.gmp.police.uk. If you can’t report online, call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
‘Postbox to heaven’ now installed at Greater Manchester crematorium
Such a lovely idea!
A postbox allowing people to send letters to their loved ones in heaven has now been installed at a Greater Manchester crematorium.
The white and gold Royal Mail letterbox can be found at Howe Bridge crematorium in Atherton, Wigan Borough. It was the idea of nine-year-old Matilda Handy who wanted to send a letter to her late grandparents to help her cope with the grief of her loss.
The first was set-up at Gedling Crematorium, near Nottingham, and proved a popular concept with over 100 letters and cards posted within its first few weeks. Speaking to Granada Reports, Matilda’s mother Leanne, who is Gedling Crematorium’s Memorial Advisor, said: “She was four when my mum died, and never met my dad.
“Now the postbox is in place, I am so pleased that local people are using it, and taking some comfort from it, as another way of feeling connected to their loved ones.”
UK crematorium and cemetery operator, Westerleigh Group is now rolling out the postboxes across all of its sites.
Lindsey Edwardson, Site Manager at Howe Bridge Crematorium, said: “Feedback has shown that the process of writing a letter, or perhaps a birthday card, to a lost loved one has already brought therapeutic comfort to many people.
“Now, the communities in and around our crematorium can do the same thing. No address or stamps are required on any of the letters or cards. This is just another way in which we can provide emotional support to local families.”
A post on the Howe Bridge Crematorium Facebook page read: “We are proud to announce the official opening of our Letters to Heaven Post Box. Our thanks go to Alison Regan Civil Funeral Celebrant for her beautiful service to commemorate its opening.
“For all those who wish, you can post a letter to your loved ones that are no longer with us at the Post Box.”
Woman with undiagnosed brain tumour had to visit doctors nine times to get scan
Doctors told her if she had not had the surgery within a few hours or days then it could have been a different story
A woman with an undiagnosed brain tumour who was told ‘we don’t give out brain scans to 24-year-olds willy nilly’ is now campaigning for change.
Claudia Laird, from Burnley, went to see a medical professional on nine occasions as she tried to get to the bottom of why she felt so unwell. One week later, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Claudia told ITV Granada Reports: “I think the initial reaction was trusting of the GP. I was in shock after, because I found out I definitely needed that brain scan.
“It was all quite quick – they weren’t sure what was on the brain at first. It was all up in the air.
“I can’t believe I went through that. We were just waiting for the doctors to tell us the outcome. It was challenging, but more so looking back on it now. At the time, you don’t know the outcome.”
Claudia was experiencing symptoms of confusion, hallucinations and fatigue. But doctors put it down to what they thought to be gastroenteritis. After discovering the tumour, Claudia had to then undergo an eight-hour operation.
Doctors told her if she had not had the surgery within a few hours or days then it could have been a different story. She said: “I was asleep all the time. My friends would call me lazy. I thought it was because I was working long hours.
“I walked into a window thinking it was a door. I spent a night in bed with my mum and dad because I was hallucinating.”
Claudia is now training to be a paediatrician, to give people the same level of care. After the difficulty she had in getting diagnosed, Claudia has decided she does not want the same mistakes to happen to someone else.
Claudia said: “We need everybody to understand the difficulty of getting that diagnosis. It took me over nine times to get that diagnosis. I went to opticians, GP and A&E just to push to say ‘I really don’t think something is right here’.
“I want to see some changes, some research, funding into brain tumours. 1% of cancer research goes into brain tumours.”
The NHS lists the symptoms of a brain tumour as:
- seizures (fits)
- persistently feeling sick (nausea), being sick (vomiting) and drowsiness.
- mental or behavioural changes, such as memory problems or changes in personality.
- progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body.
- vision or speech problems.