Published:

15 comments

Budget 1) Deadline for balancing the books pushed back yet again

“Philip Hammond’s ambition to get Britain’s finances back into the black receded further last night – as the Treasury watchdog said he would struggle to eliminate the deficit before 2031. The Chancellor had promised to balance the books by 2025. The target has been pushed back twice already, after George Osborne’s pledge in his 2010 Budget to balance the books ‘within five years’, before he revised the figure to 2020. But while the deficit – the difference between what Britain spends and raises in tax each year – has fallen from a record £152.5billion under Labour, it is still forecast to be £49.9billion this year.” – Daily Mail

  • Chancellor makes special case for NHS with £2.8 billion bailout – The Times
  • Will nurses’ pay rise open the floodgates? – Daily Mail
  • NHS chiefs claim funding boost isn’t enough – The Sun

Budget 2) Universal Credit given £1.5 billion as Hammond bows to pressure

“The Government has bowed to pressure and announced a £1.5 billion package in a bid to see off a backbench rebellion over the roll-out of Universal Credit. Philip Hammond announced that the wait for the initial payment for the policy’s claimants will be cut from six to five weeks and that the initial seven-day waiting period will be removed. It comes after Theresa May’s flagship welfare reforms were thrown into jeopardy after up to 25 Tory MPs were said to be ready to vote with Labour for a pause in the plans. Universal Credit was former Prime Minister David Cameron’s flagship welfare reform which combines six different benefits into a single payment which encourages people back into work.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Extra cash for welfare cuts waiting times – FT

More:

  • Backlash from charities as Hammond offers zero extra cash for social care – The Sun
  • Millions for fire safety after Grenfell tragedy – Daily Mail
  • Northern transport schemes win Budget backing – FT

Comment:

  • Universal Credit is at the heart of Hammond’s Budget – Iain Duncan Smith, Times Red Box
  • Hammond is in an unenviable position – Nicky Morgan, Times Red Box
  • The Chancellor was right to resist massive new NHS spending, it would reward failure – Andrew Haldenby, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The key forecasts and pledges in the Autumn Budget

Budget 3) Small businesses breath a ‘sigh of relief’

“Small firms breathed a sigh of relief last night after the Chancellor backed away from possible tax rises – and pegged business rates to a lower measure of inflation. Mr Hammond abandoned plans to force more small firms to pay VAT amid fears this would prove to be deeply unpopular among traditional Conservative voters. Instead, he handed small firms a £2.3 billion lifeline by reforming business rates so that annual bills increase in line with the consumer prices index (CPI) – saving many owners hundreds of pounds a year. It was part of a package of tax breaks to make life easier for small companies. Other pledges included support for pubs, an end to the so-called Staircase Tax and more frequent recalculation of rates themselves.” – Daily Mail

  • Small firms to pay £2.3 billion less – The Sun
  • Rates reform eases pain of rising bills – The Times

Comment:

  • Budget’s science boost will need business to deliver – Chris Cookson, FT

Budget 4) Tax thresholds rise but does Hammond still have contractors in his sights?

“Philip Hammond pushed up key thresholds in line with inflation, in a Budget that promised a further compliance crackdown and hinted at future changes for contractors, trusts and the rent-a-room scheme The chancellor said the personal allowance would rise to £11,850 and the higher-rate threshold would rise to £46,350 in April, adding he wanted families “to keep more of the money they earn”. David Kilshaw, partner at EY, professional services firm, said: “The chancellor is less generous than some may think, as he is only increasing the personal allowance with inflation from £11,500 to £11,850.” Mr Kilshaw added that high inflation meant the government’s commitment to increase the personal allowance to £12,500 by 2020-21 might also start to look less generous. A further increase of just over 5 per cent was now needed to reach this level.” – FT

Budget 5) Billions for housing, but how much is new money?

“A £44 billion package of measures to deliver 300,000 more homes a year was announced, although critics said that all but £15.3 billion had already been announced. This included plans to build five new garden towns or villages and a range of local housing deals to boost supply in specific areas including Oxfordshire, where 100,000 homes will be built by 2031. Philip Hammond said that the government was in similar housing negotiations with Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Leeds and the West. However, he stepped back from relaxing planning restrictions on greenbelt land, a move unpopular with many MPs.” – The Times

  • Ambitious plans to ‘fix broken housing market’ – FT
  • First-time buyers tell of relief at Stamp Duty cut – Daily Mail
  • Council taxes to double on empty properties – FT
  • Builders’ fury over threat to seize land from ‘hoarder’ developers – The Sun

Comment:

  • Eye-catching Stamp Duty cut will do nothing to solve the housing crisis – Liam Halligan, Daily Telegraph
  • Our first Budget as MPs will be a hit with our constituents – Kemi Badenoch, Alex Burghart, and Luke Graham, Times Red Box
  • Don’t be fooled, this new funds are not what they seem – Daniel Bentley, Daily Telegraph
  • Hammond saved his neck by giving Tory MPs something to sell – Rob Wilson, Daily Telegraph
  • Young people deserve better than the Chancellor’s railcard – Kate Andrews, Times Red Box

>Today:

>Yesterday:

Budget 6) Treasury on the trail of web giants’ revenues

“Ministers are considering an overhaul of Britain’s tax arrangements to allow them to target huge revenues generated by tech giants operating in Britain. In a consultation paper released yesterday the Treasury said it “stands ready to take unilateral action” against multinational companies who use complex webs of subsidiaries to funnel billions in profits from UK sales offshore. The government is considering taxing revenues generated by these businesses by changing the present system of deducting from profits rather than sales… The rate of a revenue-based tax would be “at a level that raises material revenue in a way that is fair, non-distortive and applicable to business models with different profit margins”.” – The Times

  • Amazon and Ebay could be made to pay VAT for sellers – The Times

More:

  • Overseas investors to pay Capital Gains Tax on UK property – FT
  • Tax on private planes to fuel APD cut for families – Daily Telegraph

Budget 7) Cash for ‘no deal’ binds wounds with Brexiteers

“Philip Hammond promised £3 billion extra to prepare for Brexit in a budget that went some way towards repairing his relations with Brexiteers. The chancellor pledged the money for “all outcomes”, including no deal, on top of £700 million already committed. This represents a U-turn, coming six weeks after signs there would be no spending in the budget for “no deal”. Mr Hammond had written in The Times that “we will only spend [money for all outcomes including a no-deal scenario] when it’s responsible to do so.” Yesterday’s sum appeared designed to heal the huge backlash from Tory Brexiteers that the piece generated.” – The Times

  • UK to set aside £3 billion ‘war chest’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Rees-Mogg attacks plans for UK to pay billions to EU post-Brexit – Daily Express

Comment:

  • Hammond hopes this shows the Brexiteers he means business – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph

Budget 8) Diesel drivers hit with tax hike

“Hundreds of thousands of diesel drivers are to be hit by a £550million tax grab. Philip Hammond announced higher Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) on new diesel cars yesterday – and a tax rise for owners of diesel company cars. The VED increase, which will apply to new diesel cars registered from April 1 next year, will force buyers to pay up to £500 extra in the first year of ownership and raise more than £250million in total. All new diesels will be hit unless they meet EU ‘real-driving’ emissions standards, which will reflect more accurately a vehicle’s emissions in real driving conditions rather than in the lab – even though the tests are not due for two years. But Mr Hammond said van drivers would be exempt, adding: ‘No white van man or woman will be hit by these measures.’” – Daily Mail

  • Tax changes encourage drivers to go electric – FT
  • Drive to slash pollution – Daily Express
  • Fuel duty otherwise remains frozen – The Sun
  • Cider fans and smokers also miss out on duty freeze – The Times

Budget 9) OBR delivers a gloomy outlook

“Britain’s growth prospects are far weaker than previously thought, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, as stalling productivity and cash-strapped consumers provide a bleak backdrop for the economy. The government’s independent economic forecaster sharply downgraded its growth predictions and now expects the economy to grow by just 1.5% this year, after predicting 2% growth back in March at the time of the last budget. Growth then slows to 1.4% next year and 1.3% in 2019, which would be the weakest rate since 2009, when the UK economy was in the depths of the financial crisis. Robert Chote, chairman of the OBR, said the bleaker outlook for growth reflected poor productivity – the amount of output generated per hour worked – in Britain and the additional strain placed on households by the sharp fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote.” – The Guardian

  • Brace yourself for more tough times ahead – Paul Johnson, Times Red Box
  • How the OBR spoiled Hammond’s housing help lines – Nils Pratley, The Guardian

Or…

  • Ministers should prepare for the OBR to be wrong – Roger Bootle, Daily Telegraph
  • Ignore these prophets of economic doom – Iain Martin, The Times
  • Why the ‘experts’ are too gloomy – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • The outlook is gloomy but there to be disproved – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Rebecca Lowe Coulson’s column: Why Brexit, politics – and everything else – can’t just be about economics

Budget 10) Scottish Tory MPs hail Budget wins

The new group of Scottish Tory MPs has claimed credit for a series of major ‘wins’ in Philip Hammond’s Budget after he admitted they had “bent” his ear in the run-up to his speech. The Chancellor said he had bowed to the demands of the 13 MPs, 12 of whom were elected in June, that Scotland’s national police and fire services have their annual £40 million VAT bill refunded in future. They also successfully lobbied him over help for the North Sea oil industry, City Deal funding for the Borders, Stirling and Tayside and a freeze on duty for Scotch whisky. Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, hailed their impact and argued they had achieved more for Scotland in only a few months than the much larger group of SNP MPs had managed in years.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Scots miss out on Budget cuts – The Scotsman
  • Sturgeon urged to reconsider income tax hike after Budget windfall… – Daily Telegraph
  • …or was Scotland ‘short-changed’ by the Budget’s lack of cash? – The Guardian
  • Hammond accused of RBS ‘fire-sale’ to prepare for Brexit – The Scotsman

Comment:

  • The Government has its groove back, but Scots voters fear their SNP future – Ruth Davidson, Daily Telegraph
  • Win for the Conservatives in numbers game with the SNP – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

Nick Timothy: This Budget shows that May bent Hammond to her will

“This time, there is still a war chest, but he gladly used up his leeway, spending more public money and reducing taxes. Previously, he was adamant that any additional public spending must be financed by new “revenue raisers”. This was how he got into trouble in his last Budget, when he proposed the increase in National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed. This time, with zero appetite for risk, he proposed no dangerous revenue raisers. Inside government in recent weeks, the Chancellor has argued against spending significant sums on new house building, and fought against the proposal to increase research and development spending to the OECD average – 2.4 per cent of GDP – within 10 years.” – Daily Telegraph

  • At least there’s a grown-up in charge of Britain’s finances – Sam Bowman, Times Red Box
  • The Chancellor played poor cards cleverly – Martin Wolf, FT
  • A Budget which punctured Corbyn and saved Hammond and May’s jobs – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • He did enough to guarantee his survival… for now – Janan Ganesh, FT
  • Hammond battles bravely with Britain’s productivity scandal – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph
  • A start which we will have to build on – Gerard Lyons, The Sun

Criticism:

  • Face-saving exercise wholly inadequate to the challenge facing Britain – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • A timid Budget from a weak Government unready for the future – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • This Budget is the British economy’s Suez moment – Larry Elliott, The Guardian
  • ‘Make or break’ Budget was just more of the same – Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian
  • Chancellor passed on the chance to be radical – Nicholas Macpherson, FT
  • Hammond blew his chance to excite the nation about Brexit – John Longworth, Daily Telegraph

The speech:

  • A speech with a surprisingly funny punch – Sam Leith, FT
  • ‘Spreadsheet Phil’ became a veritable thigh-slapper – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

Editorial:

  • The Chancellor played a weak hand well, but more is needed – The Times
  • Finally, an upbeat and ambitious Budget – Daily Telegraph
  • Hammond delivered his first Budget for our readers – The Sun

>Today: Steve Barclay MP in Comment: A balanced Budget which ensures that Britain is fit for the future

>Yesterday:

Rudd apologises for missing close Brexit vote

Amber Rudd has been forced to apologise after she missed a crucial Brexit vote in the Commons last night. The Home Secretary is understood to have been on the phone discussing a National Crime Agency issue as MPs voted on an amendment tabled by Jeremy Corbyn. She voted on four amendments to the Government’s flagship EU Withdrawal Bill on Tuesday evening, but was absent for the closest division, which concerned the retention of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The amendment was defeated by 311 to 301, leaving Theresa May with a majority of just 10 votes. Her failure to turn up and vote sparked speculation about her commitment to Brexit.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Fears for cancer patients over Euratom uncertainty – FT
  • UK facing ‘total humiliation’ over Brexit, claims Salmond – The Scotsman

Comment:

  • With Merkel and Europe in crisis, it’s time Britain got tough – Rod Liddle, The Sun

>Today: Daniel Hannan MEP’s column: Leave.EU and Arron Banks – the Brexiteers that the Remain campaign loved

Israeli anti-missile system installed to protect the Falklands

“Britain has spent £78 million protecting the Falkland Islands with a missile defence shield used by Israel. The Sky Sabre system, which uses the technology behind Israel’s Iron Dome mobile air defence system, can intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells. It was part of a £280 million renewal package for the islands announced by Michael Fallon as defence secretary in 2015. The shield, which will come into service by 2020, connects radar stations, missile launchers and aircraft. It can be used to manage defences and launch attacks on an enemy.” – The Times

Leveson decision due by year’s end

“The Government will make a decision by Christmas on press regulation and whether to press ahead with the second part of the Leveson inquiry. A public consultation sought views on section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, a controversial measure that would result in newspapers not signed up to an officially recognised regulator having to pay their own and their opponent’s legal costs, even if they won. At present the only official regulator is the Max Mosley-funded Impress body, while most newspapers, including The Times, belong to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, which is not recognised. The consultation also asked for views on whether the second part of the Leveson inquiry, which would look at wrongdoing in the police and press, should proceed.” – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Should Hammond remain as Chancellor? – James Baker and Tim Bale, CityAM
  • A sensible, conservative Budget… but will it be a success? – Mark Fox, Reaction
  • The Budget was useful, but boring. The Tories need bigger ideas – Editorial, The Spectator
  • How Conservatives can make housing a winning issue – Sahil Mahtani, Foreign Affairs
  • There’s no such thing as poverty in Hong Kong – Tim Worstall, CapX

15 comments for: Newslinks for Thursday 23rd November 2017

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.