George Osborne is expected to put education at the heart of his eighth budget announcement today (16 March). After backing down from pension reform, the chancellor will commit £1.5bn ($2.11bn) to additional lessons to improve Britain's standing in international education league tables.
Addressing MPs in the House of Commons, measures Osborne is expected to flesh out include:
- Extending school hours in England
- Making a further £4bn of cuts
- Building the HS3 rail link between Manchester and Leeds and Crossrail 2
- Increasing the personal tax allowance, fuel duty and insurance premium tax
- Clamping down on tax avoidance
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IBTimes UK columnist James Bloodworth writes there is no evidence academy schools raise educational standards - "None. Zilch. Nada" - after news comprehensive schools will become academies.
The Labour leader has finished his response prompting MPs to stream to the exits. He criticised the government's "mates rates" corporation tax deals, slammed proposals that he believed caused inequality and for missing its targets.
Stay tuned for more reaction...
Corbyn: Labour will not stand by and watch more poverty and inequality in our country
Corbyn: These [cuts to vulnerable] are the actions the cruel and callous government that sides with the wrong people.
Corbyn: This is a Chancellor for tax dodgers not tax payers, a Chancellor for hedge fund managers
"It is a recovery built on sand and a budget of failure," starts Jeremy Corbyn. "This Budget has unfairness at its very core - paid for by those who can least afford it."
And he's done! All manner of announcements were made by the chancellor but its the unexpected sugar levy that will make the headlines.
The chancellor discusses the EU ahead of policy annoucements
Osborne: Capital gains tax slashed to 20% (down from 28%), fuel, beer, cider and whisky duty to be frozen.
From April next year, ISA limit increase from just over £15,000 to £20,000 a year.
Osborne: 5yo children are consuming body weight in sugar a year...obesity drives disease and costs £27b a year. A can of Cola has nine teaspoons of sugar in but many soft drinks companies recognise concerns.
"I am not prepared to look back at my time and say to children's generation 'I'm sorry we ducked difficult decisions"
Drinks with 5g of sugar per 100ml will face an 18p levy from 2018 and those with more than 8g per 100ml will be hit with 24p a litre.
The Levy on soft-drinks industry will raise £520m a year, Osborne says.
Osborne: Every primary and secondary school in England to become an academy. We are going to establish a fair funding national formula. Want 90% of schools that will benefit by the end of the parliament.
Osborne: £700 boost to flood defence, HS3 and Crossrail 2 all get the green light.
Osborne throws ailing oil and gas industry a lifeline: abolishes petroleum revenue tax. £1bn support for industry but how much is there left to save?
Osborne: Commercial stamp duty to be reduced for lower bands
Osborne: 600,00 small businesses will pay NO rates from next year. "A typical hairdresser in Leeds will pay no business rates. A typical newsagents in Nuneaton will pay no business rates."
Osborne: Corporation was 20% at start of this parliament, reduced to 18% but today I will go further
Osborne: Five main pillars to Budget
- fundamental reform of business tax, close loopholes
- devolve power to local communities
- commitments to infrastructure of the future
- reform education
- support those who "who work hard and save"
Osborne: National debt projected to be:
82.6% in 16/17
81.3% in 17/18
79.9% in 18/19
77.2% in 19/20
74.7% in 20/21
Osborne: "In 2017-18, it [the deficit] falls to 1.9%. Then it falls again to 1.0% in 2018-19. In 2019-20 Britain is set to have a surplus of £10.4bn and rise to 11bn the year after."
Osborne: Save an additional £3.5bn in 2019/20
Osborne: "We act now so we don't pay later", if we took Labour "dangerous advice" since 2010 we would have borrowed 930bn more.
Osborne: "OBR forecasts are based on Britain remaining in the EU"