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Julian Bray provides: Opinion, comment, forward thinking speculation on Travel, Cruise & Aviation: conflict zones, terrorist impact, drone (UAV) issues, safety (black boxes, emergencies), airline operations, aviation finance, political implications, and all forms of incident risk. Worked at board level with several airline and aviation groups, including Alitalia, British Island Airways, British Airways, Galileo, British Aerospace, Skyways, former CEO City firm Leadenhall Assoc. Founder CNS City News Service. Director NTN Television News (joint co. with ITV Wales TWW) Debretts People 2017 and in launch edition of PRWeek Black Book.

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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Hammond delivers a 'fog-free' budget but accused of breaking manifesto pledges

UK Chancellor Philip Hammond outlined the Government’s spending plans in his spring Budget. Some Conservative MPs accused the Chancellor of 'breaking manifesto pledges' whilst others  said it was 'fog-free' and 'clear in its intentions'.

Mr Hammond delivered his widely leaked Budget speech to MPs in the House of Commons.He announced a tax hike for the self-employed and a new type of technical qualification in schools.

The UK’s economy is set to grow by 2 percent this year, much faster than the 1.4 per cent previously predicted by the Office of Budget Responsibility. However, from 2018 GDP growth is expected to slow to 1.6 percent before rising to 1.7 percent in 2019.


hammondcommons0803i.jpg

UK employment is expected to grow every year with a further 650,000 people in work by 2021.  Inflation is set to peak at 2.4 percent this year before falling to 2.3 percent in 2018 and then 2 percent in 2019.

The Government is set to borrow less than previously predicted. £51.7 billion will be borrowed this year, £16.4 billion less than forecast.


In the following financial year, 2017-18, borrowing will be £58.3 billion before dropping to £40.6 billion in 2018-19 and then £21.4 billion in 2019-20. Debt increased to 86.7 per cent this year but will fall to just below 80 per cent in 2021-22.

The Chancellor said there will be £216 million invested in improving schools over the next three years.

Students aged 16 to 19 will have the chance to complete “T Levels”. These are fifteen technical qualifications to be rolled out to replace some 13,000 technical certificates currently on offer, and will include a three-month 'high quality' work placement for each student.

In  addition, £320 million made available for an additional 110 free schools on top of the 500 already funded.


Education will be given the £1 billion of the proceeds of sugar tax on fizzy drinks, although it has raised less than expected.

STEM subjects will benefit from £300 million for 1,000 new PhD places in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
Pupils who qualify for free school meals at selective schools will also be offered  free school transport.

An extra £2 billion is to be ploughed into social care over the next three years to help local authorities ease the pressure on the NHS.

£100 million will be used to put more GPs in A&E departments next winter in a bid to relieve the burden.

Millions of people who are self-employed fare to face a hike in the amount of tax they are set to pay. National Insurance contributions, the main rate of Class 4, will rise by one per cent to 10 per cent next year, and to 11 per cent in April 2019.

The increase works out at around 60p more a week on average and will raise £145 million for the Treasury.

Mr Hammond said the self-employed were currently receiving unfair advantages compared with most employees. But all self-employed people earning less than £16,250 will still see a reduction in National Insurance.

The threshold for tax-free allowance on share dividends for directors and shareholders has been cut from £5,000 to £2,000 from 2018. The new rates are likely to hit those with shareholdings over £50,000 and above and is expected to raise £2.6 billion for the Treasury in four years.



Income tax rates will not rise and there will be no changes to VAT or other National Insurance.

The living wage will also rise to £7.50 in April.

The personal tax allowance will rise for the seventh year in a row to £11,500 this year and £12,500 by 2020.

A so-called “death tax” on estates has been ruled out.

Pubs will get a £1,000 discount on their rates in 2017 if their rateable value is less than £100,000.

Local authorities will also be given a £300 million so-called “hardship fund” to help businesses who are the hardest hit. However the lions share is set to be claimed by London. 

There will be a consultation on controversial proposals to raise business rates. Rates will not be increased by more than £50 a month for small businesses.

The Treasury has also announced £270 million investment into the UK’s work in “disruptive technologies” which includes biotech, robotic systems and driverless cars.

Mr Hammond unveiled plans to crack down on tax avoidance by tackling abuse of foreign pension schemes, introduce VAT on roaming telecoms services and bring in harsher penalties for professionals who solicit a tax avoidance arrangement. These measures are set to bring in £820 million.

London

Londons Mayor Sadiq Khan is to be given new powers in a devolution deal aimed at preparing London for post-Brexit.


The new powers include the option for London to upgrade its road, rail and Underground networks.   £690 million is to be given to local authorities to crack down on “urban congestion”.

Transport spending will include £90 million for the north of England and £23 million for the Midlands.

5G mobile technology is to benefit from £16 million extra funding and a £200 million boost for local broadband.

A new minimum excise duty rule has been brought in for cigarettes, which is expected to up the price of a typical pack of cigarettes by 23p, and an extra 50p on cheaper brands.



Excise duty rates for hauliers and the HGV Road User Levy have been held over for another year.

Speaking during International Women’s Day, Mr Hammond announced new funding totalling £20 million to support the campaign against violence, against women.

£5 million will be used for a project to celebrate 100 years of women getting the vote, as well as £5 million to support people getting back into work after taking a break.

The HM Treasury Red Book which explains the technicalities associated with the Budget runs to just 64 pages. Normally the publication runs to several hundred pages.....

Source PA, The Standard, BBC, CNS,


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