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Philip Hammond discusses Budget 2018

Updated: Jan 14, 2020

Chancellor Philip Hammond said the “era of austerity is finally coming to an end” in a much-debated speech on the Budget 2018 which includes a £20bn boost to the NHS.

He touched on the current state of the economy:

  • Wages growth is at its highest in nearly a decade.

  • Growth forecast is set at 1.3%, down from 1.5% in March, attributed to “bad Spring weather”.

  • There are 3.3 million more people in work since 2010.

Other announcements included:

  • A tax on plastic packaging that does not contain enough recycled materials, yet no tax on plastic cups

  • A £30bn package for England’s roads

  • £1bn to the Ministry of Defence to boost cyber capabilities, with another £160m for counter-terrorism police

  • Some £500m allocated to no-deal Brexit preparations

  • A freeze on beer, cider and spirits

The plan also includes an additional £400m for schools to buy “extras” they might need. Some schools responded by saying they would like to hire more teachers, to which Hammond responded that it is a “one-off” payment that could be used to buy some new white boards.

Others argue that the Budget tax cuts “overwhelmingly benefit the rich”, delivering an average gain of £390 for the richest fifth of households, compared to an average loss of £400 for the poorest fifth.

Brexit’s effect on the Budget is also hotly debated. Hammond said his Budget assumes an “average type free trade deal” between the EU and UK after Brexit. However, SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the Budget leaves Britain “wholly unprepared” for Brexit, with Sir Vince Cable saying “it was sticking a plaster Budget, when major surgery lies ahead”.

Budget 2018 is set to be discussed in Parliament later today.

By: Ana Hernandez

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