Highs and Lows: Everything you need to know about today’s Autumn Statement

If you’re anything like us, you may well have been glued to the BBC all morning. It seems ludicrous to think that it’s a whole twelve months since we were last sat here awaiting George Osborne’s spending pledges to infrastructure and changes to personal tax thresholds – in fact, we couldn’t have imagined a more turbulent year if we’d tried. In the wake of the summer’s Brexit vote, as well as Trump’s meteoric rise to office in the US election, many feel that 2016 has been something of a rollercoaster ride, and one that looks set to continue into the foreseeable future.

One thing is for certain – at a critical time in the UK’s political and economic life, we are in need of political leadership with a vision to meet the coming challenges.

Whatever the public feeling about his predecessor, Hammond was keen to highlight the differences between himself and Mr Osborne as he addressed parliament and the watching nation this afternoon. With an overarching message that the government’s aim is to ensure that, “the UK economy is “match-fit” for the transition that will follow the Brexit vote,” Hammond maintained the need to continue with a, “commitment to fiscal discipline”, while recognising the need for investment to drive productivity”.

Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster

Three fiscal rules for budget responsibility charter

First, the public finances should be returned to balance as early as possible in the next parliament, and in the interim cyclically adjusted borrowing should be below 2% by the end of this parliament.

Second, public sector net debt as a share of GDP must be falling by the end of this parliament, and third, that welfare spending must be within a cap set by the government and monitored by the OBR.

As the announcements continue to come thick and fast from Westminster’s live stream, here’s a quick rundown of the highlights…

Innovation and infrastructure

  • £1.1bn extra investment in English local transport networks
  • £220m to reduce traffic pinch points
  • More than £1bn for digital infrastructure and 100% business rates relief on new fibre infrastructure
  • £2bn per year by 2020 for research and development funding

Housing

  • A £2.3bn pledge over the next 5 years to help provide 100,000 new homes in high-demand areas
  • £1.4bn to deliver 40,000 extra affordable homes


The state of the economy

  • Promises of “fiscal headroom” to support the economy through Brexit
  • Office for Budget Responsibility growth forecast upgraded to 2.1% in 2016, then downgraded to 1.4% in 2017
  • OBR forecasts growth of 1.7% in 2018, 2.1% in 2019 and 2020 and 2% in 2021
  • Government no longer seeking a budget surplus in 2019-20 – Mr Hammond says he is committed to returning public finances to balance “as soon as practicable”

Other highlights

  • A ban on upfront fees charged by letting agents in England
  • National Living Wage to rise to £7.50 from April next year
  • Reduction in the rate at which benefits are withdrawn from people when they start work
  • Tax on insurance to rise to 12%
  • Personal allowance threshold protected at £12,500
  • Fuel duty frozen

For a full rundown of this afternoon’s Autumn Statement – including closing announcements that will see future statements delivered in the Spring, with the full budget being moved to Autumn – head over to BBC breaking news for a complete live feed.

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