George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement this afternoon.
Here are the key figures he announced:
– The economy is predicted to grow 3 per cent this year, up from the 2.7 per cent predicted in the budget.
– Osborne will be borrowing £12.5bn more than forecast in the budget nine months ago.
– The deficit is forecast to rise by more than expected over the next two years: £91.3bn this year and £75.9bn the following year.
– The Office for Budget Responsibility says the deficit will pick up and fall faster than expected in following years, hitting a surplus of £23bn in 2020.
Most of the Chancellor’s policy plans were released beforehand this week. But key announcements he held back for addressing parliament today include: an overhaul of stamp duty equalling a tax cut of £800m to come into place at midnight tonight, a 25 per cent tax on multinationals’ profits that they gain in the UK and artificially shift out of the country, banks paying £4bn more in tax over the next five years, and a new Sovereign Wealth Fund for the north.
Here’s a list of the policies he announced:
- A “roads revolution”: £15bn to be spent on new road funding in England. This includes a 1.8-mile tunnel to relieve congestion by Stonehenge.
- National Insurance abolished for employers that take on apprentices aged under 25.
- Income tax threshold to increase to £10,600.
- A new Sovereign Wealth Fund for the north of England, so that the shale gas resources of the north are used to invest in its future, and a commitment to “northern powerhouse” plans.
- Cutting £15bn from the Whitehall budget, and the government will spend £10bn less this year.
- Banks will pay £4bn more in tax over the next five years.
- Freezing universal credit, working-age benefit for two years, and ending unemployment benefits for migrants who have no prospect of work.
- Libor fines will continue to support military and emergency service charities, including buying new helicopters for the Great Western and Kent, Sussex and Surrey Air Ambulance.
- Extend cathedral renovation fund.
- Refund VAT for search ambulance charities and for hospice charities.
- Extending theatre tax break to orchestras.
- Devolution: support for the Smith Commission’s recommendations, devolving Northern Ireland corporation tax powers and backing devolving Welsh business rates.
- Air Passenger Duty on flights for under-12s scrapped from next year, and from 2016, it will be scrapped for all under-16s.
- Funding the NHS: a pledge to spend an extra £2bn a year on the NHS.
- Pensions: completing the reforms already announced, bringing total savings of £1.3bn a year.
- Repayment of the national debt incurred by fighting the First World War.
- 25 per cent tax on profits generated by multinationals from economic activity here in the UK which they then artificially shift out of the country.
- No increase in petrol duty.
- A new garden city in Bicester, Oxfordshire: up to 13,000 new homes to be built there.
- Flood defences: £2.3bn investment.
- Helping SMEs: a near £1bn boost for small businesses.
- Reform business rates: a review into the structure of this controversial tax on small firms. Double small business rate relief for another year.
- An overhaul of stamp duty, coming into place at midnight tonight: allowing those buying cheaper properties to pay less and those purchasing more expensive homes to pay more, equalling a tax cut of £800m, which will benefit 98 per cent of homebuyers.
- A postgraduate loans scheme: government-provided loans offering funding of up to £10,000.