The Chancellor’s speech on Wednesday will outline moves to lift restrictions on Sunday opening hours for two months this summer, with plans for a permanent relaxation if the policy is considered a success.
The Budget is also expected to signal the end of the 50p income tax rate and unveil a clutch of other business-friendly moves, including new loans for young entrepreneurs and a further cut in corporation tax.
The emphasis on boosting enterprise was detailed as Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, called for the Budget to be used to launch an attack on what he said was a “corrosive anti-business culture” in a Sunday Telegraph article. He called for an end to the 50p rate.
The eight-week suspension of Sunday trading restrictions, which will begin on July 22 and is designed to coincide with the Olympics, threatens to put the Chancellor on a collision course with trade unions, small businesses, the Church and other family-friendly groups who have campaigned to “keep Sunday special”.
Supermarkets, high-street stores and most other shops with floor space of more than 3,000 square feet can only open for six hours on a Sunday. Small shops are not restricted.