Bank of England, U.K. government take policy action over COVID-19
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The Bank of England announced an emergency rate cut, just hours before the government outlined new spending plans.
In an unscheduled and unanimous decision, policymakers at the Bank of England slashed its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point to 0.25%.
Later, the government announced no property tax for a year for leisure and hospitality businesses, government-covered sick pay costs for companies with 250 employees or fewer, fresh infrastructure spending and a whatever-it-takes pledge to support the National Health Service.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the virus will have a significant impact on the economy, but noted he expects it to be temporary and that he’ll take further action if needed.
The interest rate cut is the biggest since 2009, and is part of a package of measures aimed at boosting confidence and combating what the bank deems a temporary but highly uncertain economic impact from the new coronavirus outbreak.
The bank is also freeing up billions of dollars in extra lending power to help banks support small and medium-sized businesses.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?
As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.
Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.
U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.
What do I need to know about tax season this year?
Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.
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