22 November 2017

A surprisingly jokey Chancellor promised a future full of opportunities, with Britain at the forefront of a new technological revolution and with an economy that continues to out-perform its detractors while creating jobs. The OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility), he pointed out, is forecasting another 600,000 people in work by the 2020s.

Brexit

While emphasising that his Budget was about more than Brexit, Philip Hammond set aside an extra £3 billion for preparing for the UK's departure from the EU — covering all eventualities as he put it.

Business rates

April 2018 will see a switch from RPI to CPI. This is two years earlier than planned and will save business £2.3 billion. "Staircase tax" changes promised after some sustained lobbying.

Education

In England, there will be a £40 million teacher training fund for underperforming schools worth £1000 per teacher and 8000 new computer science teachers will be recruited at cost of £84 million. The Government will pay £600 for each new pupil taking maths or further maths at A-level.

Environment

From April 2018 the first year VED rate for diesel cars that do not meet the latest standards, will go up by one band. New diesel levy will apply only to cars, not to vans. It will provide £200 million for a new clean air fund. The existing diesel supplement in company car tax will rise by 1%. Nodding to "Blue Planet 2", the Government will investigate measures to reduce plastic waste.

Growth

According to the OBR, the 2% forecast for growth which it made in March will not now be seen for several years at least. Its forecast has been cut to 1.4% in 2018, 1.3% in both 2019 and 2020, 1.5% in 2021 and finally 1.6% in 2022.

Housing

At least £44 billion to boost construction skills and land availability so that there will be, by the mid-2020s, 300,000 homes being built every year - the biggest annual increase in housing supply since the 1970s. There will be more support for small builders and local authorities. Promise of planning reform in urban areas (but with continued protection for green belt). Too many planning permissions which have not been acted on so there will be a review to see how more can be progressed to building. Those saving the land for financial reasons could face compulsory purchase Infrastructure will be built to support new homes in the Oxford-Cambridge corridor.

Innovation

The Government will allocate a further £2.3 billion for investment in R&D and will increase the R&D Tax credit to 12%. The Chancellor will also invest more than £500 million in a range of initiatives from artificial intelligence, to 5G and full fibre broadband.

Local authorities

Councils will be able to charge a 100% premium on council tax on empty properties. Following the Grenfell Tower fire, Kensington and Chelsea Council will be given a further £28 million for mental health services and regeneration support for the surrounding areas.

NHS

A £2.8 billion boost to the health service in England. Of that, £350 million (a familiar figure?) will be for this winter, and then the rest in 2018 and 2019. Plus funding will be provided to cover an expected rise in pay for nurses and others.

Regions

The Chancellor will make available £30 million to improve digital connectivity on the trans-Pennine route. There will be a new city deal for the West Midlands and more than £1 billion of lending made available to councils to fund high-investment projects. Talks will be opened on a Belfast city deal, with a view to having city deals across Northern Ireland.

Stamp duty

With effect from 22 November, stamp duty will be abolished for first-time buyers on properties worth up to £350,000. For those (mainly in London) buying a home worth up to £500,000, they will not have to pay stamp duty on the first £350,000.

Tax

Basic rate income tax threshold will rise to £11,850 in April next year while higher rate threshold will go up to £46,350. Income tax will be applied to sales abroad and all online market places will be jointly liable with sellers for VAT.

Training

First aimed at boosting digital skills, there will be a National Retraining Scheme, to be developed by government, trade unions and business.

Transport

The fuel duty rise will be cancelled. With regard to electric cars, there will be a new £400 million charging infrastructure fund, an extra £100 million in Plug-In-Car Grant and £40 million for research into charging. If people recharge their cars at work, they will not be subject to a charge for benefits in kind. More people will become eligible for a young person's railcard, entitling them to one-third off fares. The Chancellor will also freeze short-haul air passenger duty, and long-haul APD for economy passengers. This will be funded by an increase on taxes for private jets.

VAT

UK threshold is easily the highest in the OECD but Chancellor is not minded to reduce it from £85,000 for at least the next two years.

Wages

The Government accepts the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations and the National Living Wage will rise 4.4% from £7.50 an hour to £7.83 in April 2018.