Announcing the last pre-Brexit UK Budget, Philip Hammond said “austerity is coming to an end”. He revealed, as expected, more help for small businesses, social care, roads and motorways.
Criticised for his “end of austerity” declaration, which many consider unrealistic, Hammond held a 71 minutes budget speech yesterday. Among the financial decisions mentioned, one will interest the common tax payer most. The Government increases the personal allowance to £12,500, which leaves most earners with £130 extra in their pockets. Also, the higher rate threshold will be raised to £50,000 a year.
Government spending which was already expected
Ahead of yesterday’s speech, certain aspects had already made it into the media. Investment into England’s roads and motorways, for which the Government will allocate a £30bn package, was expected. Also, many predicted some sort of support for small businesses, which came in the promise for business rates relief. These will end up most affected after March 2019. The budget features half a billion pounds planned as spending in case of a no-deal Brexit.
Analysts and specialists in mainstream media discuss the £2bn allocated for mental health as not enough. With specific services in decline for years and practitioners constantly pointing out to chronic underfunding, now they say it is too little, too late.
More money for social care and schools
One of the less expected announcements concerns higher taxes for tech giants like Amazon and Facebook. However, Hammond specified this depends on changes in international regulations too. While such measures can rise popularity for the current Government, it looks unclear how and when the intended taxation will happen. Or even if it will happen at all.
Also, after years of cuts affecting the social care sector, the budget speech announced £650m grant to fund rising care bills for local authorities. Schools will also receive £400m to help “buy the little extras they need”.
Any of these financial measures will depend on Brexit talks. As Hammond himself admitted, if the Government will fail to reach a deal with the EU, this economic plan might need to be altered.