Today the Conservative party Chancellor Philip Hammond will deliver his first budget to the UK, setting out his tax and spending plans for the year ahead.
The UK Treasury said Hammond would “give an upbeat assessment of the UK’s economic prospects and offer a positive backdrop ahead of the start of new chapter for the country outside of the European Union.”
This is the last spring budget in the UK. The government is moving to autumn budgets starting in 2018.
What could he announce?
Measures to stop tax avoidance and to modernize the tax system to get more money out of online commerce can be expected. If he does nothing, taxes look set to rise to their highest level as a proportion of national income since the 1980s.
Extra money for new state schools in England is a certainty. Hammond will confirm a one-off payment of £320 million for 140 new state schools, on top of the 500 already pledged to be created by 2020. He will also promise £216 million to rebuild and refurbish existing schools.
The UK National Audit Office has warned of an eight per cent real-terms funding gap for schools up to 2020.
A £1.3 billion injection of cash into social care for the elderly is tipped as a way of relieving pressure for hospital bed spaces in NHS hospitals. It has been widely reported that Hammond wants to embark on long-term reform of a sector that lacks a secure and fair funding formula.
Around £500 million a year is expected for the training of 16-to-19-year-olds. Hammond has said young people need more options than A-levels and university. He wants to see a technical qualification, dubbed a T-level.
Taking the sting out of hikes in business rates will be a top priority for business people, especially in London which is facing the biggest rises of anywhere in the country. Hammond has assembled hundreds of millions of pounds for a bailout for smaller firms. Traditional retailers and small businesses are the chief targets for help.
Hammond is expected to signal that the entire system of business rates needs a fundamental overhaul to cope with the rise of online firms such as Amazon, which pay relatively little tax. In future, online firms could be charged more to reflect their revenues, which might ease the pressure on those businesses who keep local High Streets alive.
This year’s 2017 spring budget will also be the last. From next year, the traditional spring budget will be combined into the annual autumn statement making it the UK’s budget event of the year.
What did he announce?
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The Budget speech in full
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As it happened