Budget 2020 Overview
Currently employees and the self-employed pay National Insurance contributions once they earn £166 per week. From April, the contributions threshold rises to £183 per week.
UK employees already get statutory sick pay if they self-isolate due to coronavirus, even if they do not show symptoms, from day 1. Those who are not eligible for sick pay, particularly the self-employed, will be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from day one of “illness” rather than day eight.
Councils will be able to access a hardship fund to help vulnerable people in their area, with money distributed through council tax discounts.
Duties on alcoholic drinks are all being frozen.
The freeze on fuel duty will continue for at least another year.
Duty on cigarettes and cigars will increase by the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation plus 2% until the end of this Parliament (usually five years).
The 5% rate of VAT on sanitary products will be abolished from January.
The allowance for Junior Isas (Individual Savings Accounts) and Child Trust Funds will be increased from £4,368 to £9,000 in April.
This April, the amount earned before paying 20% income tax will be frozen at £12,500. Also frozen is the £50,000 threshold at which people start to pay the higher 40% rate of income tax.
Coronavirus: Insurers limiting travel protection
Travel insurance provider, AXA UK, is restricting cover for claims relating to coronavirus. New policies will not cover trip cancellation or disruption relating to the virus. The Post Office and InsureandGo have also, or are, changing cover terms this week. Admiral, Aviva, LV, Churchill and Direct Line have suspended new sales. The AA and RAC’s insurance arms have limited some of the destinations they cover or the third party sites they use to sell to customers. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that travel insurance is for unforeseen circumstances and the coronavirus danger was no longer an unforeseen circumstance.
Beware of scammers preying on fears of Coronavirus
‘Click here for a cure’ claims – beware of emails purporting to be from a mysterious doctor claiming to have details about a vaccine being covered up by the Chinese and UK governments. People who click on the attached document are taken to a spoof webpage designed to harvest login details.
HMRC Covid-19 tax refund – beware of an email purporting to be from HMRC offering a tax refund due to the Coronavirus. If a member of the public clicked on “access your funds now”, it would take them to a fake government webpage, encouraging them to input all their financial and tax information.
Beware of Hackers pretending to represent the World Health Organization (WHO) attaching a document that details how recipients can prevent the disease’s spread. The attachment doesn’t contain any useful advice, and instead infects computers with malicious software which records every keystroke and sends it to the attackers. This allows the scammer to monitor their victims’ every move online.
Beware of an email with the subject line as “The subject line reads: Covid-19 – now airborne, increased community transmission.” It is designed to look like it’s from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It uses one of the organisation’s legitimate email addresses, but has in fact been sent via a spoofing tool. It includes a link that directs victims to a fake Microsoft login page, where people are encouraged to enter their email and password. Victims are then redirected to the real CDC advice page, to make the scenario look authentic, but by now the hackers are in control of the email account.
Beware of false email requests for donations to develop a vaccine.
BBC delays plans to scrap free TV licences for over 75s
The BBC is to delay plans to scrap free TV licences for over 75s amid coronavirus until 1st August 2020. The new legislation was due to come into effect on 1st June 2020.
MPs launch enquiry into social care crisis
MPS have launched an enquiry into the social care crisis. They will investigate how much extra money is needed from the government over each of the next 5 years. They will also look at the issues of staffing shortages and recruitment.
Bank of England considering digital banknotes
The Bank of England is considering the introduction of electronic banknotes for use by consumers and businesses to provide a system that would be guaranteed by the Bank, rather than a commercial business.