Last Wednesday afternoon, the Chancellor rose to speak to a socially distanced House of Commons, with the speech already being hailed by Boris Johnson as a “roadmap for freedom” and a “Budget for recovery”, says Robin Hall, managing director of Newport-based Kymin financial planners.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has faced an extraordinarily testing time since becoming Chancellor last year, with the unexpected challenge of the global health crisis.

He used his second budget to highlight the UK’s successful vaccination programme, with a pledge to continue doing “whatever it takes” to support business and jobs.

However, balancing the books will be essential, given a forecasted borrowing of £355bn in the current financial year, a record amount in peacetime.

The furlough scheme has been extended until the end of September which is aimed at supporting business to get back on their feet. Sunak also confirmed a fourth grant under the self-employed income support scheme, with a fifth from May. Also, business rates relief for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will be extended until the end of June (in England).

The Welsh Government announced later in the day it was extending the business rates holiday in Wales for these businesses for a full year.

In addition, approx £5bn in cash grants were announced for businesses hit hard by the pandemic, including shops, pubs, restaurants, and personal care services such as hairdressers.

Corporation tax will be increased to 25 per cent from April 2023 although there are some mitigating factors

The Chancellor acknowledged that not all changes to business taxation would be popular – “but they were honest” he said.

The Office for Budget Responsibility predicts the fastest economic growth in 2021 for almost 50 years, as the country emerges from lockdown, three per cent this year followed by 7.3 per cent in 2022. It would then return to pre-pandemic levels up until 2026.

The chancellor has frozen the personal tax allowance and higher rate tax thresholds until 2026, which is expected the raise £6bn per annum.

The pension lifetime allowance is also frozen at £1,073,100 until 2026, until now it has increased each year in line with inflation.

A new mortgage guarantee scheme will be introduced which will aim to get first-time buyers onto the property ladder with a deposit of just five per cent. This will be available on properties up to £600,000.

The current stamp duty reduction, due to end in March. has been extended until the end of September, with the £500,000 nil rate band now applying until the end of June, then £250,000 until the end of September then reverting to £125,000 thereafter.

The introduction of a green retail savings product through NS&I from this summer will be one to watch and there will be consultations on more investment flexibility for pensions but what that will entail only time will tell.

Alcohol duties were frozen for the second year in a row, while the rise in fuel duty was once again cancelled. This was something the Chancellor could afford to do as according to the OBR, increased drinking during lockdown means that alcohol duties will bring in £800m more than expected in the 2020/21 financial year.

There were other measures around the environment, education, and the UK infrastructure, including the first ever infrastructure bank.

Finally, banks will now be able to allow contactless payments up to £100 in a single transaction and cumulative contactless payments up to £300. The banking industry will implement the new limits later this year.