Tuesday 23 April 2024
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All the main points from The Chancellor’s Spring Budget statement today

The Chancellor says that his ‘Budget for Long Term Growth’ sticks to the plan by delivering lower taxes, better public services and more investment while increasing the size of the economy by 0.2% in 2028-29 and meeting fiscal rules.

  • Economy turning a corner, with inflation expected to fall to target next quarter, wages consistently rising faster than prices and better growth than European neighbours.
  • Chancellor capitalises on progress with ‘Budget for Long Term Growth’, sticking to the plan by putting over £900 a year back into the average worker’s pocket thanks to changes at Autumn Statement and a second Employee National Insurance tax cut from 10% to 8% in April for 27 million working people.
  • 2 million self-employed also get a second tax cut through a further 2p reduction in the NICs main rate from 8% to 6% – saving the average self-employed worker £650 when combined with cuts at Autumn Statement.
  • Personal tax cuts since Autumn are worth £20 billion, slashes the effective personal tax rate for an average earner to its lowest level since 1975, and will lead to equivalent of 200,000 more full time workers joining the labour market.
  • High Income Child Benefit Charge to be assessed on a household-basis by April 2026, and immediate support for working families by increasing the threshold to £60,000 and halving the rate at which Child Benefit is repaid – representing a £1,260 boost on average for around half a million working families.
  • The NHS in England will receive a £2.5 billion day-to-day funding boost for 2024/25 and £3.4 billion in capital investment over the forecast period to help unlock £35 billion in productivity savings over the next Parliament by harnessing new technology like AI and cutting admin workloads – part of landmark Public Sector Productivity Plan to deliver better public services.
  • The average car driver will save £50 this year as the 5p cut and freeze to fuel duty is maintained until March 2025, while pubs, breweries and distilleries will benefit from a further freeze to alcohol duty until February 2025 – which will also save consumers money on their favourite tipple.
  • New tax reliefs and investments will help establish the UK as a world leader in high-growth industries such as the creative sector, advanced manufacturing and life sciences, while 28,000 SMEs will be taken out of VAT registration altogether – encouraging them to invest and grow.
  • ‘Budget for Long Term Growth’ sticks to the plan by delivering lower taxes, better public services and more investment, while increasing size of economy by 0.2% in 2028-29 and meeting fiscal rules – taking the long-term decisions needed to build a brighter future.

More tax cuts for working people, more investment and a plan for better public services headlined Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s ‘Budget for Long Term Growth’ today, Wednesday 6 March.

With the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) confirming inflation is set to fall to target a year earlier than previously expected, wages rising consistently and the economy outperforming European neighbours, the Chancellor said he would stick to the plan to improve living standards by rewarding work and growing the economy.

Building on the 2 percentage point cut to Employee National Insurance at Autumn Statement, Mr Hunt announced a second 2p cut from 10% to 8% from April. Taken together with the cut to Employee National Insurance at Autumn Statement, this slashes the main rate of Employee NICs by a third and means the average worker earning £35,400 a year will be over £900 better off this year.

The Chancellor also went further with tax cuts for the self-employed, having reduced Class 4 NICs from 9% to 8% and abolished the requirement to pay Class 2 NICs at Autumn Statement. Today he announced a further 2p cut to Class 4 NICs for the self-employed to 6%, meaning the average worker earning £28,000 will be £650 better off compared with last year.

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Combined with changes at Autumn Statement, today’s announcements deliver personal tax cuts worth £20 billion and reduce the effective personal tax rate for a median earner to its lowest level since 1975. The OBR says these reductions will lead to the equivalent of around 200,000 extra full-time workers by 2028/29, as people increase their working hours and move into work. This boost is why the Chancellor has prioritised NICs cuts in his ‘Budget for Long Term Growth’ and why he will continue to do so when fiscally responsible. He set out that his long-term ambition is to end the unfairness of double taxation of work.

Mr Hunt also announced that the High Income Child Benefit Charge will be assessed on a household basis by April 2026, with a consultation to come on achieving this.

To ensure working families benefit from increasing their earnings before this change is made, the threshold to start paying back Child Benefit will increase in April from £50,000 to £60,000 – a 20% increase which will take 170,000 families out of paying the charge this year – while Child Benefit will no longer need to be repaid in full until earnings exceed £80,000. This represents a £1,260 boost on average for around half a million working families, rising to nearly £5,000 for some families when combined with tax cuts since Autumn Statement. This will put an end to the current unfairness, where two parents earning £49,000 a year receive the full Child Benefit while a household with a single earner on over £50,000 does not. The OBR says the immediate changes to the HICBC will lead to an increase in hours worked equivalent to around 10,000 more people entering the workforce on a full-time basis.

The Chancellor also announced a landmark Public Sector Productivity Plan which marks the first step towards returning public sector productivity back to pre-pandemic levels and will ensure taxpayers’ money is spent as efficiently as possible. OBR analysis suggests that raising public sector productivity by just 5% would deliver up to £20 billion of benefits a year.

Backed by £4.2 billion in funding, the plan will allow public services to invest in new technologies like AI, replace outdated IT systems, free up frontline workers from time-consuming admin tasks and take action to reduce costs down the line. The NHS will receive £3.4 billion as part of this over the forecast period – doubling investment in digital transformation, significantly reducing the 13 million hours lost by doctors every year because of old IT and delivering test results faster for 130,000 patients a year thanks to AI-fitted MRI scanners that help doctors read results more quickly and accurately. This investment, which comes alongside an extra £2.5 billion cash injection for 2024/25 to support the NHS improve performance and reduce waiting times, means the NHS can commit to delivering £35 billion in productivity savings over the next Parliament, while the £800 million to boost productivity across other public services will deliver an extra £1.8 billion in productivity benefits by 2029.

New tax breaks and investments will help to establish the UK as a world-leader in high-growth industries. The UK’s creative industries will be backed by over £1 billion, including higher tax reliefs to lower the cost of producing visual effects in high-end TV and film, a 40% relief on gross business rates until 2034 will be introduced for eligible film studios, and a new tax credit for independent British films with a budget of less than £15 million. Orchestras, museums, galleries and theatres will also benefit from a permanent 45% tax relief for touring productions and 40% relief for non-touring productions, while £26 million will fund maintenance and repairs at the National Theatre.

A £360 million package will support innovative R&D and manufacturing projects across the life sciences, automotive and aerospace sectors – with a further £45 million funding to accelerate medical research into common diseases like cancer, dementia and epilepsy – while the Green Industries Growth Accelerator will be allocated an extra £120 million to build supply chains for offshore wind and carbon capture and storage.

Opportunity will be spread across the country with hundreds of millions in funding to extend the Long Term Plans for Towns to 20 new places and a swathe of cultural projects, while local leaders will also be empowered to improve their communities through more devolved powers and a new North-East trailblazer devolution deal which comes with a funding package potentially worth over £100 million to support the region’s growth ambitions.

The Chancellor also took steps to make the tax system simpler and fairer. The ‘non-dom’ tax regime will be abolished and replaced with a fairer system from April 2025 where new arrivals to the UK pay the same tax as everyone else after four years – raising £2.7 billion a year by 2028/29. As the oil and gas sector’s windfall profits from higher prices are expected to last longer, the sunset clause on the Energy Profits Levy will be extended by a year to March 2029, raising £1.5 billion while encouraging investment in the UK’s energy security by promising to legislate for its abolition should market prices fall to their historic norm sooner than expected.

Accompanying forecasts by the OBR confirm that the combined impact of decisions taken at Spring Budget and the preceding two fiscal events will increase the size of the economy by 0.7% and increase total hours worked by the equivalent of 300,000 full-time workers by 2028-29  – with the combined impact of government policy since Autumn Statement 2022 reducing the tax burden in the final year of the forecast by 0.6%. Today’s announcements will reduce inflation in 2024/25, bring the equivalent of over 100,000 people into the workforce by 2028-29 and permanently grow the economy by 0.2% – with borrowing falling in every year of the forecast.

Lower taxes 

With the economy turning a corner and debt on track to fall as a share of GDP, the Chancellor delivered further tax cuts for working people – rewarding work, boosting growth and helping families with the cost of living.

  • Following a 2 percentage point cut in the Autumn Statement, the main rate of Employee National Insurance will be cut again by a further 2 percentage points from 10% to 8% in April – a one third reduction in the main rate of National Insurance which means the average worker on £35,400 will receive a tax cut of over £900 compared to last year.
  • Following a 1 percentage point cut in the Autumn Statement, the main rate of Class 4 NICs for the self-employed will be cut by a further 2 percentage points from 8% to 6% from April – saving the average self-employed person on £28,000 over £650 compared to last year when combined with scrapping the requirement to pay Class 2 NICs announced at Autumn Statement.
  • Personal tax cuts worth £20 billion delivered since Autumn, which reduces the effective personal tax rate for a median earner to its lowest level since 1975.
  • High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) will be administered on a household rather than an individual basis by April 2026, with a consultation in due course, while around half a million working families will benefit from an increase in the threshold from £50,000 to £60,000 and raising the level at which Child Benefit is fully repaid to £80,000 – worth £1260 per family on average.
  • OBR says combined changes to NICs will lead to the equivalent of around 200,000 new full-time workers joining the labour market by 2028-29 as people increase working hours and move into work, while confirmed changes to the HICBC will bring in the equivalent of an additional 10,000 full-time workers.
  • The main rates of fuel duty will be frozen again until March 2025 with the temporary 5p cut also extended, saving car drivers around £50 this year and £250 since the 5p cut was introduced – a £5 billion tax cut.
  • The six-month alcohol duty freeze announced at Autumn Statement will be extended until 1 February 2025, saving consumers 2p on a pint of beer, 1p on a pint of cider, 10p on a bottle of wine and 33p on a bottle of spirit compared to if the planned rise had gone ahead. This will benefit 38,000 pubs across the UK, while reducing inflation this year.
  • The higher rate of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on property will be cut from 28% to 24% from April 2024 – firing up the residential property market and supporting thousands of jobs that rely on it.
  • Building on the single biggest investment in childcare in English history, nurseries and preschools will be protected from rising costs through a guarantee that future funding will rise with a combination of inflation, earnings and the National Living Wage – certainty the sector needs to expand and deliver the rollout, which will save some parents using the full 30 hours up to £6,500 a year.
  • The most vulnerable families will receive targeted support through a £500 million extension to the Household Support Fund for an extra 6 months to September 2024, helping local authorities to support people with the cost of essentials, as well as abolishing the £90 fee for Debt Relief Orders so households struggling with problem debts can get the help they need, and extending the maximum period for Universal Credit budgeting advances from 12 to 24 months.

Better public services 

While growth is key to delivering high-quality public services, the Chancellor backed the NHS with more funding and outlined the first steps towards getting public sector productivity back to pre-pandemic levels.

  • Day-to-day public spending will increase by 1% higher than inflation on average over the next parliament, as Chancellor confirms spending levels will not be cut.
  • The Public Sector Productivity Plan announced today with a £4.2 billion investment will improve public service delivery and get better value for taxpayers’ money through better tech, freeing frontline workers from time-consuming admin and making earlier interventions to reduce costs later down the line.
  • The NHS will receive an additional £3.4 billion as part of this to invest in new tech and digital transformation, including making the NHS app a single front door for patients, piloting new AI to halve form-filling times for doctors, rolling out universal electronic patient records, and over one hundred upgraded AI-fitted scanners so doctors can read MRI scans more accurately and quickly. This improves patient care and helps unlock £35 billion in productivity savings by 2030.
  • This means the NHS can commit to raising productivity in the NHS to 2% on average by 2028-29, at the upper end of the 1.5-2% ambition in the Long Term Workforce Plan – delivering a health service fit for the future. The NHS also gets a £2.5 billion funding boost for 2024/25.
  • £800 million will be invested to boost productivity across other public services, including £230 million for drones and new technology like facial recognition which will free up police officers’ time for more frontline work and £75 million to roll out the highly successful Violence Reduction Unit model across England and Wales.
  • This investment in non-NHS public services will help deliver up to £1.8 billion of benefits by 2029, with further measures including digitising jury bundles to free up 55,000 working hours spent on admin, creating 200 new children’s social care place to tackle overspends, and expanding the use of AI across government to make it easier to spot and catch those who try to defraud the public purse.
  • Defence spending is expected to hit 2.3% of GDP next year after £11 billion investment announced at Spring Budget 2023.

More investment 

Building on recent investments in the UK by Google, Nissan and Microsoft, Mr Hunt announced exciting new investments in key growth sectors and set out plans to support businesses of all sizes to grow.

  • Significant package of support to establish the UK as a world leader in fast-growing industries over the next five years, including over £1 billion in new tax reliefs for creative industries, £270 million in automotive and aerospace R&D projects focusing, and a £120 million top up for the Green Industries Growth Accelerator to help build supply chains for offshore wind and carbon capture and storage.
  • £45 million will fund medical research to develop new medicines for diseases like cancer, dementia and epilepsy, and the UK’s ability to manufacture them will be boosted by plans for a £650 million AstraZeneca investment to build a new vaccine manufacturing hub in Liverpool and expand their footprint in Cambridge – thanks to government support for the life sciences sector.
  • Opportunity will be spread across the country with hundreds of millions in funding to extend the Long Term Plans for Towns to 20 new places, over £240 million to build nearly 8,000 homes in Barking Riverside and Canary Wharf alongside a new life sciences hub, and a new £160 million deal to acquire two site to develop nuclear for our energy security.
  • Local leaders will be empowered, with a new North-East trailblazer devolution deal which comes with a funding package potentially worth over £100 million in support for the region, and powers devolved to Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire and Surrey.
  • Draft legislation will be published within weeks to extend full expensing – a £10 billion tax cut for business every year to help them invest for less – to leased assets when affordable to do so, strengthening one of the most attractive capital allowance regimes of any major country.
  • SMEs will be supported to invest and grow through a £200 million extension of the Growth Guarantee Fund, helping 11,000 small businesses to access the finance they need, and an increase in the VAT registration threshold from £85,000 to £90,000 which will take around 28,000 small businesses out of paying VAT altogether.
  • Pensions and savings reforms, including the introduction of a new UK ISA allowing an additional £5,000 annual investment in UK equities tax-free and new British Savings Bonds offering savers a guaranteed rate for 3 years, will deliver better returns for savers.

Sustainable public finances 

The ‘Budget for Long Term Growth’ delivers lower taxes, better public services and more investment in a responsible way, the OBR confirming the Chancellor’s fiscal rules are on track to be met.

  • Underlying debt will fall as a share of the economy to 92.9% in 2028/29 – meeting the debt rule with £8.9 billion headroom. Headline debt will fall as a percentage of GDP every year from 2024/25.
  • Public sector borrowing falls in every year of the forecast. The deficit will be 2.7% of GDP in 2025-26 – meeting the second fiscal rule to get borrowing below 3% of GDP three years early – and by 2028-29 it falls to 1.2% of GDP, which is the lowest level since 2001-02.
  • Measures to tackle the tax gap will bring in an additional £4.5 billion a year by 2028/29, saving nearly £10 billion for the public purse when combined with policies announced at Autumn Statement.
  • The ‘non-dom’ regime will be replaced by a simpler system where arrivals have access to a more generous scheme for their first four years of tax residency before paying tax in the same way as everyone else, raising £2.7 billion a year by 2028/29 without deterring investment.
  • The Energy Profits Levy sunset clause will be extended from March 2028 to March 2029 to raise £1.5 billion a year, but legislation in the Finance Bill will abolish the Levy if market prices fall to their historic norm sooner than expected – maintaining investment in our energy security.
  • A duty on vapes will be introduced from October 2026 to protect young people and children from the harm of vaping, alongside a one-off increase in tobacco duty to recognise the role vapes play in helping people to quit smoking. This will raise a combined £1.3 billion by 2028/29.
  • Multiple Dwellings Relief will be abolished from June after showing no evidence of promoting investment in the private rented sector – raising £385 million a year – and the Furnished Holiday Lettings tax regime will be abolished from April 2025, raising £245 million a year while making it easier for local people to find a home in their community.

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