Autumn budget highlights: fuel price rise binned, NHS boost and minimum wage up

'The National' explains the key points after Chancellor Rishi Sunak sets out post-pandemic vision for Britain

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has outlined his vision for a post-pandemic Britain by delivering his budget for 2021 in Parliament on Wednesday.

Mr Sunak said his measures were intended to place greater focus on "higher wages, higher skills and rising productivity”.

Here are the main policy changes outlined:

Investment

– The Chancellor said core science funding will rise to £5.9 billion ($8.1bn) a year by 2024-25, a 37 per cent increase.

– Before the statement, £7bn in transport funding was announced for areas including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and South Yorkshire for projects, from tram improvements to introducing London-style infrastructure.

– A £6bn package to help tackle National Health Service backlogs and invest in technology was also trialled before Wednesday's statement.

– Meanwhile, £3.9bn will go towards decarbonising buildings, including £1.8bn to support tens of thousands of low-income households.

Tax and duty

A planned rise in fuel duty will be cancelled because of petrol pump prices reaching their highest level in eight years.

– Flights between airports in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be subject to a new lower rate of air passenger duty from April 2023.

– Mr Sunak confirmed a levy on property developers with profits over £25 million at a rate of 4 per cent to help create a £5bn fund to remove unsafe cladding.

Government

– Every Whitehall department will receive a “real terms rise in overall spending” as part of the Spending Review, the Chancellor said, amounting to £150bn over this Parliament.

– Devolved administrations will be given the “largest block grants” since 1998, with an increase to Scottish Government annual funding of £4.6bn, £2.5bn for Wales and £1.6bn for Northern Ireland.

– An extra £2.2bn has been announced for courts, prisons and probation services, including £500,000 to reduce the court backlogs.

– £300m will go towards 'A Start for Life' parenting programmes, with an additional £170m by 2024/25 helping to pay for childcare.

Employment and benefits

– Independent forecaster the Office for Budget Responsibility has scaled down its estimate of the scarring effect of Covid-19 on the economy from 3 per cent to 2 per cent, Mr Sunak told the Commons.

– The OBR has downgraded its unemployment forecast due to the coronavirus pandemic from 12 per cent down to 5.2 per cent.

– The minimum wage will increase to £9.50 an hour next year, up from £8.91.

– The Universal Credit taper rate will be cut by 8 per cent from no later than December 1.

Businesses

– A new 50 per cent business rate discount will apply in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, with eligible businesses able to claim a rebate on their bills of up to £110,000.

Updated: October 27th 2021, 4:22 PM
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