Treasury scraps autumn Budget to focus on Covid crisis

Treasury scraps autumn Budget to focus on Covid crisis

The government is to postpone the Budget scheduled for this autumn in order to focus on its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Treasury said this afternoon it would "not be right" to outline long-term plans amid the current crisis. The move also raises doubts over the comprehensive spending review, also scheduled for this autumn, which was intended to encompass the next four years of expenditure. 

There had been growing signs that chancellor Rishi Sunak would not proceed with the Budget. Earlier this month Mr Sunak asked the Office for Budget Responsibility to draw up spending forecasts for the autumn, but did not commit to announcing any tax or spending plans of his own.

In the meantime, the chancellor is to address Parliament tomorrow to outline the government's plans "to continue protecting jobs through the winter", Mr Sunak said this afternoon (September 23).

The Treasury has come under increasing pressure to extend its furlough scheme, or replace it with a targeted alternative, ahead of its expiry at the end of October. Those calls have grown louder in the past 24 hours as the government announced new restrictions on hospitality businesses.

The FT reported this morning that the Treasury was considering a part-time government support programme similar to that used in Germany over the past century. Boris Johnson said at prime minister's questions today that "creative and imaginative measures" were being considered.