Opinion: Budget 2021 response from Swindon’s Optimum

By Anita Jaynes on 3 March, 2021

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s much anticipated Budget still contained a few surprises, even though so much had been leaked in advance.

The extension of the furlough scheme until September brings security for employees, and the announcement of a fifth round of support for the self-employed, was good news. The fourth and fifth rounds of the self-employed allowance – SEISS – will also draw in a further 600,000 people, who were excluded from the first three rounds.

“There were also some interesting new grants announced for businesses,” said Michael Blaken, Head of Accounts at Swindon-based Optimum Professional Services. “We’re pleased to see a new loan recovery scheme is replacing the Bounce Back loan scheme, and the Restart Grant for non-essential retail, hospitality and leisure will give these badly hit sectors a lifeline. The three month business rates holiday, with a reduced rate for the rest of the year, will also help the high street.”

Michael added, “The extension of the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday to June, and then doubling the nil rate threshold until September is very good news for homebuyers. The average house price in Swindon is now around £243,000, so many property transaction in the town will remain free of SDLT for several months to come.”

Not opting for any tax rises, other than for Corporation Tax, was a surprise. Michael said, “The Chancellor talked about fixing public finances and recouping some of the £400bn Covid spending, but he seems to be playing the long game here. We have to remember, though, that a proportion of that Covid spending was in loans, which should come back into the Treasury in due course – and of course he announced £100m for HMRC to investigate Covid fraud.”

Pictured above: Michael Blaken, Head of Accounts at Optimum Professional Services.