Business leaders in Cumbria and across the North West have given a measured thumbs up to the government after the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a £30 billion package as part of a three-part plan to kickstart the economy by “supporting people to find jobs, create jobs and protect jobs”.

Rishi Sunak instigated a number of support measures and investment streams into the UK economy as part of his Summer Economic Update statement, dubbed the ‘mini-budget’.

Despite receiving backing widely from a number of groups and business leaders, the Chancellor has come in for some criticism from opposition parties and the Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Paul Johnson, with nothing mentioned for the self-employed specifically while the furlough scheme will come to an end in October.

In a short 25 minute speech Mr Sunak’s measures included:

- A new £2bn scheme to create thousands of job placements for young people aged between 16-24 called ‘Kickstarts’, to get unemployed people into work.

- A temporary change to stamp duty - immediately increasing the threshold from £125,000 to £500,000 until March 31, 2021, to help reinvigorate the housing market.

- Temporary cut to VAT on food, accommodation and attractions from 20% to 5%

- A new job retention bonus for employers who bring back furloughed staff, giving £1,000 to businesses who bring back employees from furlough

- New bonus payments for businesses hiring apprentices and trainees

- A £2bn "green homes grant" to help make homes more energy efficient

- “Eat out to help out” vouchers that will give diners 50 per cent off their meals out at cafes, restaurants and pubs, with conditions, for August. Meals eaten from Mondays to Wednesdays in August, will be 50 per cent off up to a maximum discount of £10 per head with participating businesses claiming the money back from Government.

- Doubling work coaches in Jobcentres.

Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce stated “it's clear that the thrust is about protecting jobs in the short term rather than helping businesses to build a sustainable recovery.”

He said: “We wanted him introduce grants to help businesses adapt their premises and business models to operate profitably under social distancing.

“We also asked for a cut in employers' NI contributions and for an extension of some of the coronavirus grant schemes to help businesses facing cashflow difficulties.

“It's obvious the Government is worried there will be a jump in unemployment when the furlough scheme ends and Rishi Sunak's statement is primarily about minimising that spike.”

He welcomed the recognition that the hospitality sector has been hit hard but is worried many measures are only temporary.