Posted on 09 Mar, 2017
Yesterday, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced his spending plans for the next few years in his spring Budget. His controversial move to bypass the Conservative's pledge to freeze national insurance contributions has been widely criticised by MPs.
The UK's economy is predicted to grow by 2%; 0.6% faster than predicted previously by the Office of Budget Responsibility. Employment is also set to rise, with a further 65 000 people in jobs by 2021. Inflation will peak at 2.4% before falling to 2.3% in 2018. The government will borrow £51.7 bn this year, 32% less than was forecast.
£216 million will be invested in schools over the next three years, with £320 million to be given to free schools. 'T Levels', new technical qualifications that will replace current certificates, will be introduced, with students completing a three-month work experience placement on completion.
Health and social care
An additional £2bn will be given to social care services to help ease the strain on the NHS, and a further £100m will be put into GP and A&E departments in winter.
Business rates & taxation
In terms of national insurance payments, Class 4 NICS will rise by 2% by 2019 for self-employed workers. Local authorities will be given a £300m 'hardship fund' for those hit hardest by the business rates changes outlined last month.
The London Devolution Agreement
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan has been working alongside London Council, the Treasury and Downing Street since last May to negotiate a devolution deal for the capital. The agreement will initiate positive changes affecting thousands of Londoners.
More power and control will be given to Transport for London to reduce congestion, something commuters will no doubt welcome with open arms. Hammond also confirmed that an agreement has been made to devolve a number of healthcare powers, which will enable them to better meet the needs of local communities.
The issue of business rates was also addressed, and London was granted more autonomy over the administration of their business rates. By June, the chancellor will confirm a devolution deal on criminal justice services, with the aim of improving services for victims and offenders in the capital.
The chancellor's plans have made Sadiq Khan more optimistic about London's economy following the Brexit vote:
"With the uncertainty of Brexit, this extra control had never been more important...[The] agreement builds on commitments made by the Chancellor in last year's Autumn Statement, which included a record £3.15bn deal to build 90 000 new and genuinely affordable homes in London and the devolution of adult skills funding and employment services support."
Plans for Crossrail 2 were not mentioned, much to the disappointment of the mayor.