Everything you Need to Know About the Spring Statement 2019
On Wednesday 13th March, the Chancellor laid out the Spring Statement for 2019 before Parliament. This is an annual occurrence and provides an opportunity for the Chancellor to update on the overall health of the economy and the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) forecasts for the growth and the public finances.
It also a time during which updates on the progress made since the 2018 Budget are provided – it does not include major tax or spending changes, however, as these are made during the Budget once a year.
This year, Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement asserted that the UK economy is continuing to grow, with ‘wages increasing and unemployment at historic lows, providing a solid foundation on which to build Britain’s economic future.’ He could not make the statement without reference to the lack of clarity around Brexit but did state that borrowing and debt were both forecast to be lower in every year than at least year’s Budget. This allowed him to ‘set out further investments in infrastructure, technology, housing, skills, and clean growth, so that the UK can capitalise on the post-EU exit opportunities that lie ahead.’
Furthermore, the Chancellor also confirmed that, bearing the UK’s imminent departure from the EU, the government will ‘hold a Spending Review which will conclude alongside the Budget. This will set departmental budgets, including three year budgets for resource spending, if an EU exit deal is agreed.’ Lidington went on to announce extra funding to tackle serious violence and knife crime by pledging £100 million to police forces in those areas most affected in England and Wales.
Other highlights from the Spring Statement include:
- Since 2010, the economy has grown faster than France, Italy and Japan
- The unemployment rate of 4.0% is the lowest rate since 1975
- Debt fell last year, and is forecast to fall continuously, to 73.0% of GDP in 2023-24, compared to the peak of 85.1% in 2016-17
- £79 million funding was announced for a new supercomputer in Edinburgh whose processing power will contribute to discoveries in medicine, climate science and aerospace, and build on previous British breakthroughs including targeted treatments for arthritis and HIV
- Landing cards will begin to be abolished from June 2019. This will reduce bureaucracy for travellers and speed up the processing of passengers on arrival in the UK
- The government will advance the decarbonisation of gas supplies by increasing the proportion of green gas in the grid, helping to reduce dependence on burning natural gas in homes and businesses
- To tackle period poverty in schools, the Department for Education will lead work to develop a national scheme in England to provide free sanitary products to girls in secondary schools
- £717 million from the £5.5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund to unlock up to 37,000 homes at sites including Old Oak Common in London, the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and Cheshire.
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