Today’s Budget announces major investment across the country, including £1.4 billion investment in research and development for the Animal and Plant Health Agency based in New Haw (although described as Weybridge for the national audience). Combined with £2 million to expand the cross‑cutting strategic science and resilience capabilities, this will help to ensure we are equipped to foresee challenges and opportunities and improve public services.
This investment will enhance our world‑class capability, underpinning agricultural trade, and protecting the UK from the increasing threats of current and emerging animal diseases. This secures Runnymede and Weybridge’s position as a leading area for science, research and development.
The Chancellor also announced extensive measures to support people and business affected by the impact of coronavirus, measures to protect the environment and the doubling of national investment in flood defences to £5.2 billion. This included:
- A £5 billion COVID-19 response fund to ensure the NHS and other public services receive the funding they need to respond to the outbreak
- A new Employment and Support Allowance for people directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating
- Support for small and medium-sized businesses and employers coping with the extra costs of paying COVID-19 related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) by refunding eligible SSP costs.
- Business rate relief increased to 100% for 2020-21. The relief will also be expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors.
- Double the amount invested in the flood and coastal defence programme in England to £5.2 billion over six years
- An increase in the National Insurance contributions (NICs) Primary Threshold and Lower Profits Limit to £9,500 from April 2020
- An increase in the National Living Wage by 6.2% from £8.21 to £8.72 from April 2020
- £500 million over the next five years to support the rollout of a fast-charging network for electric vehicles, ensuring that drivers will never be further than 30 miles from a rapid charging station.
- A new Nature for Climate Fund which will invest £640 million in tree planting and peatland restoration in England, increasing the rate of tree planting by over 600% and covering an area 100 times the size of the average school catchment area.
For full details of the Budget are available here.