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The UK Chancellor Phillip Hammond has delivered a relatively neutral Budget with the claim that “Austerity is coming to an end” a rather different message to PM Theresa May who claimed “austerity had ended”.
The UK government has forecast GDP growth of 1.6% in 2019, declining to 1.4% in 2020 and 1.4% in 2021 alongside a budget deficit (public sector borrowing requirement) of £31.8bn in 2019-2020, £26.7bn in 2020-2021 and £23.8bn in 2021-2022.
A number of specific items have been agreed:-
£1bn for the UK Ministry of Defence for cyber threats.
£400m bonus for schools
£420m for local Highways Authorities for fixing potholes
£650m for local authority social care for elderly people
Increased funding of £500m for the Housing Infrastructure Fund
£2.4bn for Transforming Cities Fund
UK Digital Services Tax (to be introduced in April 2020) on “established tech giants” with a turnover over £500m
£950m for the Scottish government, £550m for the Welsh government and £320m for Northern Ireland government
Tax on imported plastic packages and disposable plastic cups that is 30% recyclable or less
Freeze in fuel duties and on beer, cider and spirits
Tobacco duties to rise in line with inflation +2%
Universal Credit allowances increased by £1,000
Personal allowance of £12,500 and £50,000 higher rate threshold from April 2019 a year before the manifesto pledge in April 2020.
A rather average “mid-term” budget with some innovative measures, helping local governments, schools and environmental measures.
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