The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has today taken to the despatch box to give his combined Autumn Statement and Comprehensive Spending Review to Parliament.
The review aimed to deliver on the government’s priority to provide security to working people at every stage of their lives. It set out a 4 year plan to fix the public finances, return the country to surplus and run a healthy economy and start to pay down the debt. The Statement also aimed to ensure Britain’s long term economic security by the government and ability to spend £4 trillion on its priorities over the next 4 years.
No cuts to Tax credits
- The tax credit taper rate and thresholds are to remain unchanged the income rise discharge will be £2,500. The government will also propose no further changes to the universal credit taper or to the work allowances beyond those passed through Parliament.
- The rate of housing benefit in the social sector will be capped at the relevant local housing allowance - in other words at the same rate paid to those in the private rented sector.
The state pension
- The basic state pension will rise to £119.30 per week, an increase of £3.35. This means that pensioners will be £1,125 better off a year. The government is also making the biggest change to the state pension with a new rate set at £155.65.
Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
- The Chancellor announced that the number of people claiming benefits has fallen to just 2.3%, the lowest since 1975. Therefore, the same support and conditionality will be extended to those on JSA to over 1 million more benefit claimants. Those signing on will have to attend the Jobcentre once a week for the first three months. More help will be given in real terms to people with disabilities get into work.
- There will be a 25% cut to the Whitehall budget of the Department of Health.
- Direct funding for healthcare students will be replaced by loans. This aims to remove the cap on student nurses and create up to 10,000 new training places.
- The NHS budget will rise from £101bn today to £120bn by 2020-21
- In future, local authorities who are responsible for social care will be able to levy a new social care precept of up to 2% on council tax. The money raised will be used exclusively on adult social care. It is hoped that this will bring up to £2bn into the care sector. This is part of the reform being undertaken by the government to integrate health and social care by the end of the decade.
- The Temporary Accommodation Management Fee will no longer be paid through the benefits system – instead councils will receive £10m a year more upfront so they can provide more help to homeless people.
- The government will continue to provide £50 off the water bills of South West Water customers for the rest of the parliament.
- A new cheaper domestic energy efficiency scheme will be introduced to replace ECO. It is hoped that new scheme will save an average of £30 a year from the energy bills of 24 million households.
- The government is making a £6bn commitment to childcare to working families. From 2017 the government will fund 30 hours of free childcare for working families with 3 and 4 year olds. It will support £10,000 if childcare costs tax free. To make this affordable offer will only be available to parents working more than 16 hours a week and with incomes of less than £100,000. Childcare to the most disadvantaged 2 year olds. Support will be given to nurseries delivering more free places for parents. Funding for the sector will be increased to £300 million.
- Maintenance loans are to be replaced by larger loans – these are also to be available to part-time students. Tuition fee loans will be provided for those studying higher skills in further education and extended to all post-graduate students.
- The government wants to 3 million apprentices by 2020 and will set up a new business led body to set standards. Business will share part of the cost of apprenticeships via a new levy to be introduced in 2017.