Budget 2021 needs to deliver for families and employers

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, will deliver the 2021 Budget tomorrow (Wednesday 3 March) in the House of Commons to announce the Government’s tax and spending plans for the year ahead. It continues to be a challenging time for many, and we expect that the Chancellor will focus on the economic recovery from Covid-19. In order to ensure families, the childcare sector and society as a whole is supported, we are making the following calls:

  • Furlough should be extended: with many restrictions still in place, particularly in the hospitality and retail sectors, it is vital that the Chancellor continues to extend the furlough scheme to support millions of workers who remain on furlough and their employers, and phases it out cautiously. Many employers, particularly in those sectors which have remained closed, or have only been able to reopen for short periods over the past year, do not have the resources to make a greater contribution to the furlough scheme so we would ask that the Government considers this, in order to avoid wide-scale redundancies. Those employers who bring employees back from furlough should also be supported as they try to rebuild their businesses. 
  • The £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit and Tax Credit must be made permanent and extended to legacy benefits: based on our work with families, who are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic we know just how much this £20 weekly uplift has provided a vital boost to household income for many families. Many families continue to experience precarious circumstances with record number of redundancies in Northern Ireland and over 100,000 jobs still being supported by the furlough scheme. It’s vital that families continue to receive this financial support at this challenging time. We also believe the uplift should be extended to all equivalent legacy benefits and we are calling for the £20 uplift to be made permanent.
  • Support for childcare: Covid-19 has been a challenging time for the childcare sector with reduced demand for childcare in many areas, the increased demands of social distancing and enhanced cleaning as well as difficulties around staffing levels due to the need for staff to self-isolate. Yet Covid-19 has also demonstrated just how essential childcare is to the economy and it will be vital that parents, as the economy begins to reopen and more people move back into the workplace, can access affordable childcare to enable them to get into, or stay in work, education or the childcare they need. The sector therefore needs continued support in order to be sustainable and to continue delivering the high-quality service parents need, and that the economy, relies on.
  • Support for employers and employees: As many sectors begin to reopen and employees move towards more ‘normal’ working patters, we are calling for support for employers, to enable them to offer more flexible and family friendly working opportunities for their employees. For many employers, Covid-19 has shown that remote working can be managed successfully and productively and they would benefit from the support from Government to allow them to put in place more permanent flexible working arrangements for staff.
  • Support for self-employed:Continue to provide vital financial assistance to those who are self-employed and ensure support is provided for those who have been excluded to date. This could include many working in the childcare sector.

We will be watching carefully as the Chancellor gets to his feet in the House of Commons tomorrow to present this important Budget and will provide an update on our website and social media channels once we analyse the detail of his speech, and what it means for families and employers.