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Budget 2021: Chancellor set to announce £400m for arts sector

Business / Tue 2nd Mar 2021 at 09:16am

THE chancellor is set to announce £408m of help for museums, theatres and galleries in England to reopen when Covid restrictions start to ease reports the BBC.

In his Budget on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak will also pledge £150m to help communities take over pubs.

Meanwhile, former Conservative leader Lord Hague has said “some business and personal taxes” must go up to improve public finances during the recovery.

But Labour argues council tax rises, set for April, should be scrapped.

Mr Sunak is reportedly planning to increase corporation tax to as much as 25%, from the current 19%.

But some Conservative MPs are warning that they will resist this or any similar moves.

In the Budget, the chancellor will outline the state of the UK economy and its outlook, and give details of the government’s plans for raising or lowering taxes.

With its takings down during the pandemic, and spending on programmes such as furlough costing tens of billions of pounds, the government is expected to borrow £394bn during the current financial year – the highest figure seen in peacetime.

Official figures show the UK economy contracted by 9.9% and, last week, it was revealed unemployment had risen to 5.1% in the three months to December – the worst rate since 2015.

On Tuesday, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng signalled the chancellor will announce a further extension of the furlough scheme.

Mr Kwarteng told BBC Breakfast: “I think the Chancellor has already indicated that we will be extending furlough.”

Mr Sunak said the culture sector would be a “significant driver” in restarting the economy, as the country follows the “roadmap” for reducing Covid restrictions.

He is expected to put an extra £300m into the £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund.

England’s museums and cultural bodies will also receive £90m to keep going until they can open their doors on 17 May at the earliest, with £18.8m provided for community cultural projects.

And £77m will go to the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to provide culture groups with similar backing.

Mr Sunak said arts and culture employed more than 700,000 people across the UK, adding that he was “committed to ensuring” that they could “captivate audiences in the months and years to come”.

The chancellor will also use his Budget speech to deliver a £150m Community Ownership Fund to allow pub-goers to bid for up to £250,000 to save their favourite local.

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