LONDON, Nov 9 (Reuters) - The cost of Britain’s COVID-19 economic rescue is on track to exceed 200 billion pounds ($263 billion) this financial year after its latest job support and other measures.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak’s announcements last week - including an extension until March 31 of a costly job protection scheme - look set to cost more than 30 billion pounds, on top of his huge spending increases and tax cuts earlier this year.
British government debt has surpassed 2 trillion pounds, or 103.5% of gross domestic product, its highest since 1960 when the country was still recovering from heavy spending during World War Two.
Annual borrowing looks set to hit 400 billion pounds for its highest share of GDP since the war at around 20% of GDP.
Sunak said his support was worth more than 200 billion pounds before the new measures, but this included loan guarantees and tax deferrals which only count as spending once statisticians judge them unlikely to be repaid.
Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility is due to publish new estimates of the cost of the rescue plan on Nov. 25.
JOB RETENTION SCHEME - 56 BLN POUNDS
Cost so far: 41.4 billion pounds (Source: Treasury, as of Oct. 18)
Future cost: Around 15 billion pounds (Reuters/BoE estimate)
The scheme supported 9 million jobs at it peak, a third of the private-sector workforce. About 2 million people are on furlough now, receiving about 2 billion pounds a month.
After Sunak extended the JRS until March 31, the extra cost would be 10 billion pounds based on the these figures. But this could soar above 15 billion pounds if the Bank of England is right in predicting the number of people on furlough will hit 5.5 million in November during England’s lockdown, and average 2.5 million afterwards.
SELF-EMPLOYED INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME - 26.5 BLN POUNDS
Cost so far: 13.7 billion pounds (Treasury, as of Oct. 18)
Future cost: 12.8 billion pounds (Treasury, Reuters estimate)
Sunak plans two more grants, with the first costing 7.3 billion pounds. The second is likely to cost about 5.5 billion pounds, based on how the first grants evolved.
BUSINESS LOAN GUARANTEES - 12.9 BLN POUNDS SO FAR
Cost so far: 12.9 billion-pound expected loss (OBR, Reuters estimate)
Future cost: several billion pounds (Reuters estimate)
The government has so far guaranteed 62 billion pounds of bank loans, mostly to small businesses.
The OBR expects the taxpayer will have to cover 30% of lending to small businesses, and 4% to larger firms - which would create a 12.9 billion-pound cost on the latest figures.
The government will now accept new loan applications until Jan. 31, creating the risk of further losses.
EXTRA ENGLISH PUBLIC SERVICES SPENDING - 48.5 BLN POUNDS
More than 30 billion pounds on healthcare and COVID tracing, and 5 billion pounds on public transport subsidies, plus other costs.
EXTRA SOCIAL BENEFITS - 31.6 BLN POUNDS
There will be spending on social benefits not forecast by the OBR alongside March’s annual budget, such as a temporary increase in benefits available to the unemployed and low earners and higher costs due to more unemployment.
SCOTLAND, WALES AND NORTHERN IRELAND - 16 BLN POUNDS
Cost so far: 14 billion pounds (Treasury)
Future cost: 2 billion pounds (Treasury)
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will get an extra 16 billion pounds to combat COVID and help firms.
HELP FOR SMALL FIRMS THAT ARE SHUT - OVER 15.5 BLN POUNDS
Cost so far: 14.5 billion pounds (OBR)
Future cost: 1 billion pounds per month (Treasury)
English businesses required to close due to COVID will receive a grant of up to 3,000 pounds a month, at a total cost of more than 1 billion pounds per month of closure.
BUSINESS PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS - 10 BLN POUNDS
Retail, hospitality and leisure firms, as well as nurseries, will be exempt from local property taxes.
OTHER TAX CUTS AND INCENTIVES - 4.3-8.4 BLN POUNDS
The Treasury estimates temporary cuts to property purchase taxes and sales tax in the hospitality sector will cost 7.9 billion pounds. The OBR gave a much lower estimate of 3.8 billion pounds. A restaurant dining subsidy in August cost 522 million pounds.
BUSINESS SUPPORT VIA LOCAL AUTHORITIES - 3.1 BLN POUNDS
Cost so far: 2.0 billion pounds (OBR)
Future cost: 1.1 billion pounds (Treasury)
Local authorities will receive an extra 1.1 billion pounds to help businesses affected by COVID but not required to close. ($1 = 0.7615 pounds) (Reporting by David Milliken Editing by Gareth Jones)
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