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World UK budget to tackle virus fallout, aid recovery

13:41  03 march  2021
13:41  03 march  2021 Source:   afp.com

Participatory budget for the region: Val-de-Marne wants cycling and biodiversity

 Participatory budget for the region: Val-de-Marne wants cycling and biodiversity © LP / Jean Cittone Illustration. Urban agriculture, a major development issue. To your votes! Until March 8, choose the best ecological and solidarity projects in Val-de-Marne. The winners will be funded by the region, as part of its participatory budget, up to € 500 million over five years. Two conditions to vote: live or work in Ile-de-France, and be over 15 years old. Five themes are highlighted this year: biodiversity, cycling, cleanliness, energy and health.

British finance minister Rishi Sunak unveils his annual budget Wednesday, promising measures to safeguard businesses and jobs while tackling virus-fuelled debt as England prepares to exit its third lockdown.

a man holding a box: Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak with the Budget Box in 2020. The government has already indicated it plans to extend support to pay wages for businesses forced to shut during the pandemic © DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak with the Budget Box in 2020. The government has already indicated it plans to extend support to pay wages for businesses forced to shut during the pandemic

Ahead of the budget statement in parliament, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative government announced late Tuesday that it would extend its furlough scheme paying the bulk of wages for millions of private-sector workers.

Budget 2021: The challenge facing Sunak

  Budget 2021: The challenge facing Sunak The BBC looks at the state of the UK economy ahead of the spring Budget.In his 3 March statement, the chancellor will outline the state of the UK economy and its outlook for the future - and give details of the government's plans for raising or lowering taxes.

News of the multi-billion-pound furlough extension until the end of September, five months longer than planned, boosted share prices of retailers and travel companies trading in London.

"We will continue doing whatever it takes to support the British people and businesses through this moment of crisis," Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak will say when delivering his budget to parliament from 1230 GMT, according to his department.

He will add that once the economy is "on the way to recovery, we will need to begin fixing the public finances -- and I want to be honest today about our plans to do that".

The furlough scheme has contributed to soaring government debt, which Sunak may tackle in part by using his budget to announce a rise in corporation tax or a levy on company profits, according to reports.

Vaccine programme to receive £1.7bn 'shot in the arm' in Budget

  Vaccine programme to receive £1.7bn 'shot in the arm' in Budget A huge boost in spending on the UK's COVID-19 vaccine programme will be announced by the chancellor in the Budget on Wednesday. Rishi Sunak will pledge a further £1.65bn for jabs, a cash injection hailed by the Treasury as a "shot in the arm" for the vaccine roll-out.The chancellor will also promise to invest a further £33m in vaccine testing and development to protect against future outbreaks and variants.

At 19 percent, Britain's corporation tax rate is the nation's lowest on record and one of the smallest in the Group of 20 bloc of wealthy nations.

The government has cut taxes during the pandemic -- reducing sales tax on food, accommodation and attractions.

It has also lifted the threshold at which stamp duty is due on home purchases, helping property buyers and the construction sector.

Some or all of these measures could be extended in the budget, according to reports.

- Cost of virus -

Britain is the worst-hit country in Europe with more than 120,000 Covid deaths and four million cases.

But its economic recovery hopes have been boosted by its rapid vaccination programme that has seen millions of adults receive a jab.

The economy shrunk almost 10 percent in 2020 because of the impact of the pandemic, with activity also hampered by turmoil ahead of Britain's eventual exit from the European Union.

UK to extend virus support, may raise tax in budget

  UK to extend virus support, may raise tax in budget Britain is expected to keep vast emergency financial support propping up the UK's virus-battered economy when unveiling its annual budget Wednesday, but could also raise tax to fight surging debt. Analysts argue that Britain must use the budget to both extend coronavirus financial support measures and tackle inequalities exacerbated by Covid. In a joint report, the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Citi bank noted that lower-income households had not been able to save as much cash as richer counterparts, sparking greater inequality in society during the crisis.

Reflecting the problems, UK unemployment has shot up to a five-year high of 5.1 percent.

England's third lockdown will start to be lifted from Monday, with the reopening of schools, followed by non-essential shops and hospitality in the coming months.

Since April 2020, or soon after the UK's first virus lockdown, the government's net borrowing has ballooned by £271 billion ($378 billion, 314 billion euros), according to official data.

The state has pumped out around £280 billion in support packages over the past year to fight the virus fallout, according to the Treasury.

The budget is also expected to confirm the launch of an Infrastructure Bank with £12 billion in capital and £10 billion in government guarantees.

The lender will be formed to finance private-sector projects in the green economy, focusing on areas such as carbon capture and renewable energy.

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A Massive Global Hunt for Variants Is Under Way .
Tracking the coronavirus’s evolution, letter by letter, has given us a powerful tool—if we can figure out how to use it.The first genome for the virus causing a mysterious illness we had not yet named COVID-19 was shared by scientists on January 10, 2020. That single genome alerted the world to the danger of a novel coronavirus. It was the basis of new tests as countries scrambled to find the virus within their own borders. And it became the template for vaccines, the same ones now making their way to millions of people every day. That first coronavirus genome may have been the most important 30,000 letters published in all of 2020.

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