June 18, 2020

Rishi Sunak answers your questions

Your Questions Answered by: Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer

Thank you for submitting your question in our Party’s new newsletter. We’ve had a truly overwhelming response, with over 17,000 questions.

For any questions I haven’t been able to answer, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, will be answering more in our next newsletter. Submit your question here.

Or the government is keeping an updated list of frequently asked questions here.

Is it really safe to go to the shops again? – Caroline from Warwick

I understand the anxiety about returning to shops. However, over the last few days I’ve been visiting stores of all kinds, checking that they are safe to reopen.

When you do go back, you’ll see what I have, the extraordinary steps shops have taken to ensure a safe environment. They’ve got distancing clearly marked out on the floor, hand sanitisers, screens at the checkout and a different way to do returns.

Shopping is something we all used to do. It’s something we all love doing. It’s how we spend time as a family, being out at the weekends, and it’s something we’ve missed. So please do get out there and go shopping. And support your local businesses.

When will the pubs open again? – James from Northumberland

This is a question all of us want to know the answer to, and I understand many hospitality businesses are eager to know when they can open again.

The roadmap sets out our ambition to reopen these from 4 July at the earliest, subject to the scientific advice at the time.

In the meantime, you can enjoy a drink outside with up to 6 people – within social distancing guidelines – and the hospitality industry has access to Government support to help them with financial challenges.

My 17 year old son would have been taking his A Levels at the moment and has been actively looking for an apprenticeship but there is nothing available due to the current situation.  What do you plan to do to help our young people who have so much to offer to our future economic prosperity? – Maria from Birmingham

Young people like your son are acutely in my mind at the moment. Because you’re right, leaving school or college now will mean going into a very tough labour market.

The research shows that if we can’t find ways to get young people into work or to do something productive quickly, that’s going to have a really long-term impact on their life. So, we’re looking at the best ways to support school-leaving age groups in particular, and apprenticeships absolutely will be a part of that.

They’re something I’ve always championed as a backbench MP and now as Chancellor – so I can assure you we are committed to ensuring young people, like your son, have the opportunities they deserve.

As a shielding 72 year old when will I be able to go to my daughter’s house and hug her and my granddaughter? – Susan from Castleford

I don’t underestimate just how hard recent months have been for families all across our country, and it is thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of the British people that we have managed to slow the spread of coronavirus and prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed.

But we can’t give up yet and waste the progress we’ve made. As someone who is shielding, you may now wish to consider spending time outdoors once a day, with members of your own household, or with one person from another household if you are shielding alone.

We are keeping the guidance for shielded people under review, so that people can get back to some sense of normality as soon as it is safe to do so.

The Government will be writing to those who are shielding with any significant updated information on shielding advice and the support that will be available to them.

I’ve had to furlough 4 members of staff at my business. Are you going to continue to provide support for me to keep these staff on? – Paul from Cirencester

I am very conscious employers like yourself need certainty for the future. That’s why I’ve set out in detail how we will continue to support businesses like yours through the furlough scheme.

In June and July, nothing will change for employers, and we will continue to pay 80% of their employees’ salaries – and from July businesses will be able to bring back furloughed staff part-time.

From August, the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work. The Government will pay 80 per cent of wages up to a cap of £2,500, but employers will start paying employer National Insurance and pension contributions.

From September, the Government will pay 70 per cent of wages up to a cap of £2,190. Employers will be asked to pay the remaining 10 per cent, in addition to employer National Insurance and pension contributions.

From October, the Government will pay 60 per cent of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will be asked to pay the remaining 20 per cent, in addition to employer National Insurance and pension contribution

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, will be answering your questions next. Do you have a question for Matt?

Region Labour's Pension Tax (£) Extra Months to Work
England 11,167 44
East Midlands 6,150 50
Greater London 12,871 45
North East 9,758 38
North West 6,835 47
South East 14,270 40
South West 7,407 45
West Midlands 10,729 41
Northern Ireland 13,718 35
Scotland 10,653 41
Wales 11,691 36
United Kingdom 11,253 43

Commenting, Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, said:

“Corbyn’s Pension Tax will see ten million savers facing a huge bill forcing them to delay their retirement for almost three and a half years.
“This is just one of the ways a Corbyn government would hammer hardworking people on top of his plans to hike up taxes by £2,400 a year, as well as the cost of his plan for unlimited immigration and the chaos of 2020 being dominated by two more referendums – one on Brexit and another on Scottish independence.
“Only Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party can get Brexit done with a deal, get parliament working again and turbocharge our economy to unleash Britain’s potential.”

Read more about how this Pension Tax will impact millions of savers (PDF)