Metrics Monthly Q1 | 21


We’re almost there

A collective sigh of relief could be heard across the country earlier this month when Rishi Sunak unveiled a range of big spending measures in the Budget designed to underpin the economy as it emerges from the pandemic. The most signifanct of these was an extension of the furlough scheme to September. The Treasury is going to continue to pay 80% of the salaries of individuals who cannot work, providing many businesses and their employees with a much-needed lifeline until the return of more normal times. The only change to the scheme will be that com- panies will be asked to contribute 10% of the cost in July and 20% in August. Those on Universal Credit are going to

benefit from an additional thousand pound bonus, while individuals on Working Tax Credit are to get a one-off payment of five hundred pounds. This money comes on top of the minimum wage rising to £8.91 per hour from April. Alongside his boost to business and personal finances, the Chancellor gave the housing market further impetus with an extension of the successful Stamp Duty holiday to June 30, plus lender incentives encouraging the pro- vision of 95% mortgages. His ‘Budget for Recovery’, combined with the UK’s vaccination programme, is expected to limit the unemployment rate to 6.5% next year, as opposed to the 11.9% that was previously foreseen. Furthermore, the scale of his ambitious £355bn support package for this year and next has led forecasters to predict the UK economy will grow by more than

4% this year and 7% in 2022 - signifi - cantly ahead of France and Germany and a welcome contrast to its 9.9% con- traction in 2020. The restructuring of the High Street continued at a pace during the first quarter of 2021. Household names that we all thought would be with us forever have succumbed to the new commer- cial reality. These now include TopShop, Mothercare, Carphone Warehouse, Oasis, Evans, Brighthouse, Debenhams and Paperchase. The five billion pound fund for retailers announced in the Budget may well be a case of too little, too late. It seems unlikely anyone will want to bring failed stores back in their traditional form, so what will happen to the shells they have left behind?

08 | Metrics Monthly

Q1 | 2021

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