Chancellor outlines plans to rebuild UK economy after Covid

Chancellor extends furlough scheme, raises corporation tax and freezes personal tax thresholds.

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak has outlined a three-stage plan to rebuild the UK economy after the coronavirus pandemic caused “one of the largest, most comprehensive and sustained economic shocks this country has ever faced”.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Sunak said it will take the UK and the whole world a “long time to recover from this extraordinary economic situation”.

Scotland’s finance secretary Kate Forbes said the UK Government’s support for businesses and households is “significantly less generous than what we have committed to here in Scotland”.

Addressing MPs, Sunak said: “First, we will continue doing whatever it takes to support the British people and businesses through this moment of crisis.


“Second, once we are 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. And, third, in today’s Budget we begin the work of building our future economy.”

Sunak also said the Government will not raise the rates of income tax, national insurance, or VAT.

But he added: “Instead, our first step is to freeze personal tax thresholds.”

The Chancellor went on: “We will of course deliver our promise to increase it again next year to £12,570, but we will then keep it at this more generous level until April 2026.


“The higher rate threshold will similarly be increased next year, to £50,270, and will then also remain at that level for the same period.

“Nobody’s take home pay will be less than it is now, as a result of this policy.

“But I want to be clear with all members that this policy does remove the incremental benefit created had thresholds continued to increase with inflation.”

Income Tax is the responsibility of the UK Government and is collected and managed by HMRC.

The Scottish Parliament does not have the power to set personal allowance thresholds but can set its own rates and bands.

Meanwhile, Sunak said the rate of corporation tax paid on company profits will increase to 25% in 2023.

The Chancellor also confirmed the furlough scheme will be extended to the end of September, as will support for the self-employed, adding that more than 700,000 people have lost their jobs since March 2020 and the economy has shrunk by 10%, the largest fall in more than 300 years.


He told MPs: “As businesses reopen, we’ll ask them to contribute alongside the taxpayer to the cost of paying their employees. Nothing will change until July, when we will ask for a small contribution of just 10% and 20% in August and September.”

Sunak said the support for self-employed workers will also continue until September, with the fourth grant providing three months of support at 80% of average trading profits. He noted for the fifth grant, people will continue to receive grants worth three months of average profits – with the system open for claims from late July.

Sunak said: “When the scheme was launched, the newly self-employed couldn’t qualify because they hadn’t all filed a 2019/20 tax return.

“But as the tax return deadline has now passed, I can announce today that, provided they filed a tax return by midnight last night, over 600,000 more people, many of whom only became self-employed last year, can now claim the fourth and fifth grants.”

The Chancellor said the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) expects the economy will be there percent smaller than it would have been in five years’ time because of Covid, but that the economy is forecast to grow this year by four percent, by 7.3% in 2022, then 1.7%, 1.6% and 1.7% in the last three years of the forecast.

Sunak said Covid-19 has done “profound damage” to the economy and the forecasts make clear that “repairing the long-term damage will take time”.

He told the Commons: “The OBR still expects that in five years’ time, because of coronavirus, our economy will be three percent smaller than it would have been.”

Sunak also told Parliament the Universal Credit uplift of £20-per-week will continue for a further six months.

Among the other key announcments were an extra £19m for domestic violence programmes, a “new restart grant” in April to help businesses reopen and a six-month extension of the five percent reduced rate of VAT to September 30.

Sunak said the measures to support the economy amounted to £65bn over this year and next, taking the total Government support to £407bn over that period.

He said coronavirus has caused one of the “largest, most comprehensive and sustained economic shocks this country has ever faced”, and added the Government has delivered “one of the largest, most comprehensive and sustained responses this country has ever seen”.

Responding to the UK Budget, Forbes said Sunak had not matched Scotland’s ambition for economic recovery and supporting households.

She said “It is extremely disappointing that the chancellor has failed to reverse the cuts to Scotland’s capital budget and has refused to make the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent.

“We have provided certainty and stability to businesses by extending 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation businesses for 12 months.

“Today’s UK Budget fell significantly short of this, extending 100% relief for three months but only 66% for the remaining nine months for businesses in England.

“While there is some additional funding for Scotland, it was clear from the Chancellor’s statement that the storm clouds of austerity are on the horizon once again – with the OBR highlighting that departmental spending is being cut by £15bn – a move that would be disastrous for our economic recovery, undermine our public services, and impact on the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Family of four seriously injured after explosion rips through home

At least one house was completely destroyed after huge blast at housing estate in Ayr on Monday night.

Katielee Arrowsmith via SWNS

Four members of the same family are in a serious condition after their home was destroyed by a huge explosion in Ayr.

A mum and dad and their two children were all inside the house when the blast happened on Monday night.

Police said on Tuesday that a 43-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy are currently being treated at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

A 47-year-old man has been taken to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow and an 11-year-old boy is being cared for at the Royal Hospital for Children.


They all suffered serious injuries during the blast in the Kincaidston area of the town, which was heard for miles around.

The other residents of the houses affected by the blast have all been accounted for.

Drone footage taken on Tuesday morning showed extensive damage to properties in Gorse Park. At least one house has been completely destroyed.

Residents have been evacuated from the area and two rest centres have been set up to assist those affected.

Katielee Arrowsmith via SWNS
Several properties have been destroyed after an explosion in Ayr.

Chief inspector Derrick Johnston, area commander for South Ayrshire, said: “This is a complex incident and a number of different agencies are working together to establish the full circumstances of what happened.

“Our thoughts are with the family and everyone within the local community affected by this. A joint investigation with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is being carried out.

Emergency services were called to the scene at around 7.10pm on Monday, police said, adding that local road closures were in place and the public are advised to avoid the area.

Councillor Chris Cullen from South Ayrshire Council said: “It’s absolutely devastating what’s happened, it’s not something you expect.

“You come home, you cook your tea and next thing ‘boom’ there’s an explosion beside you. There’s a lot of people who are just totally shook, didn’t know what was happening.”

‘You come home, you cook your tea and next thing ‘boom’ there’s an explosion beside you.’

Councillor Chris Cullen

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “We dispatched a number of resources to the scene, including three specialist operations vehicles, six ambulances and an air ambulance.”

Euan Bryson, who lives in the adjacent housing estate, tweeted a video showing a fire engine on a smoke-filled street in the aftermath of the explosion.


He said: “(It) was chaotic. There was personal property and rubble all over the scene.

Another resident told STV News: “It was like an earthquake. I thought (my wife) was up the stairs and I thought she fell. The next door neighbour said it was an explosion.”

Gas distribution company SGN is helping the emergency services.

A spokesman said: “Our engineers are currently assisting the emergency services to ensure the immediate vicinity is made safe in our role as the gas emergency service.”

STV News
Damaged car following explosion in Ayr.

SFRS area commander Ian McMeekin, the local senior officer for East, North and South Ayrshire, said: “Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this incident.

“This has been an extremely complex and challenging incident, which significantly damaged multiple properties in the area and resulted in the evacuation of other nearby homes. We will remain in attendance for some time as we work with our partners to ensure the area is safe.

“A joint investigation alongside Police Scotland will be carried out in due course to establish the full facts and circumstances.”

Siobhian Brown, the MSP for Ayr, Prestwick and Troon, urged people to avoid the area.

On her Facebook page, she wrote: “Our thoughts are with those affected in the Kincaidston area as we hear reports of an explosion.

“Please avoid the area if you can and let the emergency services do their jobs.”

Teen appears in court charged with murder of boy at railway station

The 16-year-old allegedly attacked Justin McLaughlin at Glasgow's High Street station on Saturday afternoon.

Police Scotland
Justin McLaughlin died at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

A teenager has appeared in court charged with the murder of a 14-year-old schoolboy.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, allegedly attacked Justin McLaughlin at Glasgow’s High Street train station on October 16.

The boy was found seriously injured at the station at around 3.45pm and taken to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

As well as the murder allegation, the 16-year-old is also charged with assault to severe injury, threatening behaviour and having a bladed item in a public place.


The suspect made no plea at a private hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

He was remanded in custody pending further examination by Sheriff Paul Reid.

The teenager will appear in court again within the next eight days.

COP26 president says Glasgow summit will be safe event despite concerns

Alok Sharma spoke to STV News ahead of the global climate conference on October 31.

STV News

By Lewis McKenzie and Colin Mackay

Alok Sharma has pledged that COP26 will be a safe event – despite concerns over a potential rise in Covid cases, and disruption caused by protesters and striking public sector workers.

The COP26 president said there is a “detailed regime” in place to ensure that the climate summit in Glasgow is Covid secure.

It comes just days after Professor Linda Bauld said that mass events are still “risky” despite declining rates of Covid-19.


“Safety is absolutely paramount,” Sharma told STV News ahead of the start of COP26 on October 31.

“Right from the start of planning for this event, we wanted to ensure that this was a safe event.

“One, of course, from a health perspective in terms of Covid, but of course working very closely with Police Scotland and other agencies round the UK to make sure that this is a safe event for everyone who is attending.

“But, also particularly for the people of Glasgow.


“So, there is a detailed regime to ensure this is Covid secure… we will have daily testing taking place, there’s going to be social distancing.

“You know, regular cleaning of the venue and the rooms.”

Asked whether people will be required to wear masks, the UK Government minister said: “Well, people will have to wear masks if they are moving around in the venue.

“And of course, we’ve set all of this out to delegates.

“So, we are going to ensure that this is a safe event and of course, that is really important if we’re going to have success, and at the end of the day, that we’re going to come forward with a negotiation.”

Mass protests are set to take place during the summit, with significant disruption expected throughout the city.

Meanwhile, ScotRail workers are set for strike action, as well as bin workers and school support staff.


But, Sharma indicated that steps are being taken to ensure that delegates will be able to get back and forth from the COP26 venue.

He said: “Protest is something that happens as part of these events and I’m someone who is very supportive of people being able to protest in a lawful way and that’s right and proper.

“Of course, we need to make sure that that is how people approach this.

“And in terms of public sector workers, obviously we are talking to all our delivery partners, including our transport partners in Scotland to make sure that actually we are able to ensure that delegates can get to the venue, and get back to where they’re staying.”

More on:

Campaign for nightclubs boycott in demand to tackle drink spiking

Groups backing the nationwide campaign have been established in locations across Scotland.

santypan via IStock
The action comes after Nottinghamshire Police confirmed it was looking into multiple reports of people being 'spiked physically' in the city.

A campaign is calling for a boycott of nightclubs and bars in a demand for the ‘epidemic’ of drink spiking to be tackled.

The ‘Girls Night In’ campaign has asked for women to avoid the venues on Thursday, October 28, in protest at safety concerns not being taken seriously.

It has gathered support from across the UK, with campaign groups having been established in cities including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

The action comes after Nottinghamshire Police confirmed it was looking into multiple reports of people being ‘spiked physically’ in the city.


Student Zara Owen, 19, earlier spoke about her experience of blacking out shortly after arriving at a nightclub in Nottingham, before waking up with pain in her leg and discovering a pin prick.

In a post on Instagram, GirlsNightIn-Glasgow set out their reasons for boycotting nightclubs.

They called for greater repercussions, greater staff training, increased searches on entrance and higher quality CCTV at the bar.

The group has also called for better support for victims, more obvious directions on how to get help, and stoppers/cup covers to be provided free at every bar.


They also called for treatment and prevention policies from government that “match the severity of the issue”.

Meanwhile, a petition to the UK Parliament calling for a law to be introduced which would mean nightclubs would be required to search guests on arrival to prevent harmful weapons and other items being taken in has reached over 100,000 signatures.

The petition raised the issue of ‘date rape’ drugs being used in clubs and asked why more was not being done to tackle the issue.

Councillor bids to prevent strike action ‘casting a spell’ over COP26

Cleansing workers are set to take industrial action during the summit.

Alexey Rezvykh via IStock
The GMB Union say that COSLA has disregarded key workers.

A Glasgow councillor is urging every party member to come together to prevent strike action from council staff “casting a spell” over COP26.

It comes after it was confirmed that the city’s cleansing workers will take industrial action on November 1 for eight days over pay and working conditions.

School janitorial and catering staff also said they could walk out if the situation wasn’t resolved by COSLA. 

Conservative group leader, councillor Thomas Kerr, said that the situation should never have been left to reach a stage where workers felt they had no choice but to go on strike.


Kerr said: “Our cleansing staff have been left to be attacked by rats and simply haven’t been fully resourced to ensure people’s bins have been collected. 

“It should never have reached a stage where cleansing staff feel the need to strike during a major summit. 

“There is an urgent need for all parties to get round the table again to avoid this casting a shadow over COP26.”

SNP workforce convenor councillor Alan Casey added that while their group supports the rights of workers to take industrial action, he hopes to see a fair outcome for everyone.


He said: “The SNP group fully support the right of all unions to take industrial action and would like to again thank all those who have worked so hard through the most difficult period that local government and the country has faced in living memory. 

“While the negotiations on the pay settlement are carried out by COSLA at a national level we hope to see a fair outcome that recognises the work done by all Council staff.”

More than 900 members of the GMB union voted to strike last week and gave local authority body COSLA until Monday to table an improved pay offer.

GMB workers say they are standing up for themselves and their working rights.

Convenor Chris Mitchell said: “COSLA has totally disregarded key workers over the last 14 months. We now feel we have no other option but to take strike action.

“We have been on depot visits speaking to 900 hundred GMB members and the solidarity camaraderie is getting stronger and stronger. The workforce is angry about this, the shocking facilities and poor working conditions.

“COP26 will go down in history but for the right reasons where low paid workers stood for what they deserve.”


COSLA says it will continue it’s ongoing talks with the trade unions.

A spokesperson said: “We appreciate everything that local government workers have been doing, and continue to do, to support people and communities during the pandemic and as we begin to recover.

“We continue with on-going constructive negotiations.”

Glasgow City Council has also urged the union to think again.

A spokesman said: “These are national, rather than local, pay negotiations and it is difficult to understand why this step has been taken while those negotiations remain ongoing.

“Cop will undoubtedly be a busy and difficult time for the city and its residents.

“Holding this action only in Glasgow at this time will have disproportionate and unfair local impact in pursuit of a national campaign. We urge them to think again about the timing of this.”

By Local Democracy reporter Catherine Hunter

Postecoglou: Celtic kept Europa League hopes alive with win

The 2-0 victory over Ferencvaros could be a turning point in the group for the Glasgow side.

Craig Williamson via SNS Group
Postecoglou was delighted with how his side controlled the match.

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou believes his side have “an opportunity” to change their Europa League fortunes after beating Ferencvaros 2-0.

Goals from Kyogo Furuhashi and David Turnbull earned Celtic their first three points in Europa League Group G and moved the team from bottom up top third in the section.

After defeats to Real Betis and Bayer Leverkusen in their opening games, Celtic’s chances of progressing from the group looked slim but Postecoglou says that winning on Tuesday kept hope alive.

The schedule sees Celtic travel to Hungary for the return leg in November and the manager thinks his side could repeat the feat to further boost their chances.


“There is no reason why we can’t,” Postecoglou said..

“We went to Betis and took the game to them. It is still a game that doesn’t sit well with me because I thought we should have got something out of that game.

“I know we lost but were certainly very good and we had some other opportunities and made a couple of mistakes defensively cost us.

“That gave us belief that we can match it against the best even away from home and tonight we felt that.


“It is not going to be an easy game but what tonight does is gives us an opportunity to keep our hopes alive which we had to do, we had to win tonight.

“We weren’t shying away from the fact that that it was imperative that we got three points – and we did that.

“It was well deserved. We controlled the game really well right from the start.”

The match had been moved to a Tuesday afternoon because of a scheduling issue initially caused by COP26 being in Glasgow next month but just over 50,000 fans were in the stadium when the action started at the unusual time of 3.30pm.

Postecoglou was amused at the number of supporters who has roared on their team.

He said: “I apologise to all the employers who had little productivity today because they were missing people and schools that may have been empty but they come here, they create an energy and we have to match that with our football and when you have that and it has happened here in the past for sure, you become a real formidable force.”

Ferncvarois boss Peter Stoger was disappointed with the result but said his team hadn’t managed to continue a good start.


“The better team won,” he said. “The first half was OK, the Celtic fans were not so happy with their performance but we were not able to keep that level up.

“It was too easy for Celtic to score the first goal. In the three matches there have been some close moments but we have to accept a bit of quality is missing. But it is possible to win against Celtic in two weeks.” 

Police appeal in search for missing 14-year-old girl

Anyone with information on her whereabouts has been asked to contact police.

Police Scotland
Alana Whitelaw was reported missing from her home in Forfar on Tuesday, October 19.

Police are appealing for information in the search for a 14-year-old girl missing from Tayside.

Alana Whitelaw was reported missing from her home in Forfar on Tuesday, October 19.

She was last seen at around 2.30pm on Tuesday afternoon.

Alana is described as being white, of medium build with long brown hair.


Sergeant Gillian Fraser said: “Alana has been missing before, however she is only 14 years of age and we need to trace her to ensure that she is safe and well.

“I would ask anyone with any information on her whereabouts to contact officers through 101 quoting reference 1929 of October 19.”

Second man charged after human remains found at children’s park

William Leiper's body was discovered at the scene of a fire in Househill Park in the Pollok area of Glasgow.

Police Scotland
William Leiper, 31, was found dead on Wednesday, August 4, 2021.

A man has been arrested and charged in connection with the death of a man whose charred remains were found at the scene of a fire in a Glasgow park.

William Leiper’s body was found in Househill Park, near to Hartstone Road in Pollok, at around 7.35am on Wednesday, August 4, 2021.

On Tuesday, Police Scotland said a 25-year-old man had been charged in connection with the 31-year-old’s death.

He is due to appear before Glasgow Sheriff Court.


On August 14, ten days after the discovery of Mr Leiper’s remains, a 40-year-old man was arrested.

Jude McPhie appeared at the court charged with murder.

He made no plea and was remanded in custody.

Scottish Government accused of pushing back booster vaccination dates

The NHS Inform website now states 'other eligible groups' will be able to book their third dose from 'mid-November'.

South_agency via IStock
Change of plan: Booster vaccination dates.

Booster vaccination dates for some eligible groups appear to have been pushed back by the Scottish Government.

The NHS Inform website now states jabs for the “other eligible groups” – which includes adults over 50 and those between 16 and 49 who are adult, young or unpaid carers, living with someone who is immunosuppressed and those with underlying health conditions – will now be able to book their third dose from “mid-November”.

But an announcement by the Scottish Government on September 14 shows the intention to ensure these groups can book via an online portal from this month.

The guide, which allows Scots to choose from a list of categories which best describes their situation, also says third doses could continue into January.


The website, which was updated on October 15, said: “A booking portal will be available from mid-November.

“Vaccinations will start from mid-November and run through December and early January.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton accused the Scottish Government of “sneaking out” the changes.

“We know that caseloads are still far too high so there can be no excuses for these delays,” he said.


“The health secretary needs to tell the public what steps he will take to speed up this rollout.

“I am concerned that we have seen errors creeping into the vaccination programme.

“Elderly constituents are being told they need to travel out of town to get jabbed and there seems to be a lack of joined up thinking in not delivering flu jabs at the same time.

“Last winter we were facing an unprecedented pandemic. There can be no such excuses for the Health Secretary this time around.”

Scottish Tory health spokesman, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, said: “The SNP are sneakily shifting the goalposts on their own vaccination timelines. These documents show how they have quietly dropped their initial targets.

“When the SNP should be quickening the pace of the vaccine booster jag scheme at every turn, instead, they are slowing it down.

“Humza Yousaf needs to urgently step up his game and guarantee jags will be in the arms of those eligible as soon as possible.”

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