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Chancellor Delivers Budget 2018

30 October 2018/Categories: Grants_and_Funding

The Chancellor began Budget 2018 by saying that "the era of austerity is finally coming to an end." Mr Hammond then announced that in addition to the already-allocated £2.2 billion to government departments for Brexit preparations (with a further £1.5 billion to be allocated in 2019-20), he was increasing that sum to £2 billion.

The latest Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts for UK economic growth have revised expected growth from the previous 1.3% forecast at the Spring Statement to 1.6% next year, then 1.4% in 2020 and 2021; 1.5% in 2022; and 1.6% in 2023. Hammond also said the OBR has forecast sustained real wages growth in each of the next five years. Saying that the OBR had confirmed a “significant improvement” in the public finances, the Chancellor said this would allow him to "set out a new path for public spending." He confirmed a five-year path for additional departmental spending and that a full spending review will take place as expected in 2019.

Key announcements from Budget 2018 include the following:

  • The NHS will be publishing a plan for reform, including a new NHS crisis service, with children and young people’s crisis teams available in all parts of the country. £84 million will also be invested over five years to expand programmes for children in care.
  • Councils will be able to get more money from the social care precept, with a green paper on the future of social care to be published soon. However, the Chancellor acknowledged that councils face immediate problems, announcing an additional £650 million in social care grant funding for English councils in 2019/20.
  • £1 billion extra in defence funding over the next two years to boost the UK's cyber capabilities and anti-submarine warfare capacity. Mr Hammond also announced an additional £160 million of Counter Terrorism police funding for 2019-20.
  • Marking the centenary of the First World War, an extra £10 million for the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to support veterans with mental health needs. An additional £10 million will also be made available for air ambulance services.
  • A £400 million fund to help schools buy the extras that they need Taking the form of a one-off capital payment directly to schools, averaging £10,000 per primary school and £50,000 per Secondary School.
  • An additional £420 million available immediately to Local Highway Authorities to tackle potholes, bridge repairs, and other minor works in this financial year.
  • £1.6 billion of new investments to support the modern Industrial Strategy, ranging from nuclear fusion to quantum computing; and £150 million for fellowships to attract the brightest talent to the UK.
  • The Annual Investment Allowance will be increased to £1 million for two years; and UKEF’s direct lending facility will be increased by up to £2 billion to support British exports.
  • A £695 million initiative to help small firms hire apprentices. For smaller firms taking apprenticeships, the amount they will have to pay will be halved.
  • The Government will abolish the use of the private finance initiative (PFI) for future projects, with the Chancellor saying there is compelling evidence that it does not deliver value for taxpayers or genuinely transfer risk to the private sector. However, the Government will honour existing contracts.
  • A new UK Digital Services Tax will see established tech giants taxed 2% on money they make from UK users. It will only be paid by firms that generate £500 million in revenue. The tax will come into effect in April 2020 and raise £400 million a year
  • Business rates will be cut by one third for firms with a rateable value of less than £50,000.
  • A £675 million Future High Streets Fund to provide support for the British High Street.
  • £500 million for the Housing Infrastructure Fund to unlock 650,000 homes. The Government plans to empower up to 500 neighbourhoods to buy land for housing for sale to local people in perpetuity.
  • £950 million for the Scottish Government, with £150 million for a Tay Cities Deal; £550 million for the Welsh Government, with £120 million for a North Wales Growth Deal; and £320 million for the Northern Ireland Executive, with £350 million for a Belfast City Region Deal.
  • Tax rates for the oil and gas industries will stay at the same level, with the Government spending £12 million on new technology and safety measures for the fishing industry.
  • The Government will consult on the detail and implementation timetable of a new tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging which contains less than 30% recycled plastic.
  • A package of measures worth £1 billion over five years to assist the migration to Universal Credit. Work allowances in Universal Credit will also be increased by £1,000, at a cost of £1.7 billion.
  • From April 2019, the National Living Wage will rise by 4.9%, from £7.83 to £8.21. The Government will also raise the tax-free Personal Allowance to £12,500 and the Higher Rate Threshold to £50,000 from next April.

The Chancellor characterised Budget 2018 as "a Budget that shows the British people that the hard work is paying off"; and that as the UK prepares to leave the EU, the Government is taking further steps to ensure a positive future by investing in public services, supporting businesses, and boosting living standards across the country.

Source: IDOX Solutions 29/10/2018

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