There was calm before the storm that never came. Philip Hammond left Number 11 and arrived at the Parliament gates passing crowds waiting in anticipation for what would be the first Budget since Theresa May’s disastrous election back on June 8th.
People were expecting Philip Hammond’s second budget since replacing George Osborne to be pessimistic because of the Chancellors’ previous comments about Brexit.
Despite this, Mr Hammond used the Budget to announce a variety of new investments, including an immediate £350million cash boost for the NHS, £3billion set aside for preparing to leave the European Union and a total of £500million for British tech companies.
Critics believe that this is partly a response to Labour’s shock performance in the General Election, which forced the Conservative Party to address inequality as Mrs May vowed to lead a “one-nation” government that works for all and not just the “privileged few.”
Mr Hammond’s focus for his budget was to fix a broken housing market which saw the abolishment of stamp duty for first-time buyers purchasing properties worth up to £300,000.
Theresa May, who has clashed with Mr Hammond on the housing policy and wanted him to spend more, reportedly said he had “done a good job in the difficult circumstances.”
Overall, however, this was overshadowed by the biggest downgrade in the UK’s economic prospects since the financial crisis with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicting lower growth than at any time in its history.
This comes amid the UK’s finances unexpected turn for the worse after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said public sector net borrowing jumped by £500million to £8billion in October.
Here is a summary of what Philip Hammond announced:
1) There are over 32 million people in work – near a record high.
2) Borrowing has fallen by three quarters since 2010, but debt is still high.
3) An extra £3 billion to prepare for Brexit over the next two years.
4) £6.3 billion of new funding for the NHS.
5) Abolishing stamp duty land tax (SDLT) on homes under £300,000 for first-time buyers from 22 November.
6) 300,000 new homes a year, an amount not achieved since 1970.
7) The National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage will increase from April 2018.
8) The tax-free personal allowance will rise with inflation to £11,850 from April 2018.
9) Fuel duty will remain frozen for the eighth year.
10) A new railcard for those aged 26 to 30.
11) Duty on beer, wine, cider and spirits will be frozen.
12) Duty on tobacco will rise.
13) 95% of passengers will not see an increase in their Air Passenger Duty.
14) Households applying for Universal Credit will get more upfront support.
15) Electric and driverless cars.
16) The world’s first national advisory body for artificial intelligence (AI).
17) More investment in maths and science in schools.
18) £64 million for construction and digital training courses.
19) A £220 million Clean Air Fund for local areas with the highest air pollution.
20) Reducing single-use plastics waste.
21) Business rates will switch to being increased by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) 2 years earlier than planned.
22) Pubs in England will continue to receive a £1,000 business rates discount next year.
23) Stopping digital multinationals who hold intellectual property in low-tax countries from avoiding tax.
24) More money for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
25) Funding for transport across England.