Belfast Telegraph

Monday 30 May 2016

Budget 2016: George Osborne earmarks £4m for Northern Ireland's first air ambulance service

By Claire Williamson

Published 16/03/2016

George Osborne is delivering his budget for 2016 live at the House of Commons
George Osborne is delivering his budget for 2016 live at the House of Commons
British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne holds up the Budget Box as he poses for photographs outside 11 Downing Street on March 16, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 16: British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne holds up the Budget Box as he poses for photographs outside 11 Downing Street on March 16, 2016 in London, England. Today's budget will set the expenditure of the public sector for the year beginning on April 1st 2016 against the revenues gathered by HM Treasury. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
British Prime Minister David Cameron (C) leaves 10 Downing Street in London, on March 16, 2016, as British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne prepares to unveil the government's annual budget to parliament. / AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 16: Prime Minister David Cameron leaves Downing Street on March 16, 2016 in London, England. The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will deliver the next Budget today, where he will state that he needs to cut 50 pence in every £100 that the Government spends by 2020. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

George Osborne has announced that £4million has been earmarked to help establish the first Air Ambulance service for Northern Ireland as part of his Budget for 2016.

The Chancellor delivered his eighth budget at the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Among the most significant announcements for Northern Ireland was that £4m in Libor fines have been earmarked for delivering the helicopter emergency service to Northern Ireland.

Libor is the London Interbank Offered Rate which is the interbank lending rate that benchmarks interest rates across the UK. Banks were found to have manipulated the system and were heavily fined as a result.

Northern Ireland is currently the only region of the UK which does not have an emergency air ambulance service.

In September Health Minister Simon Hamilton said he was committed to the idea.

The campaign was spear-headed by the late Dr John Hinds.

He was known as one of the flying doctors of Irish road racing but was fatally injured last July as he provided medical cover at a Skerries 100 practice session in Co Dublin.

<< read George Osborne's 2016 budget speech in full >>

Mr Osborne also told the House of Commons that he continues to work with the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers towards the devolution of corporation tax - which he also announced he plans to reduce to 17% by 2020.

<< scroll down for NIIRTA reaction to budget >>

Meanwhile Mr Osborne announced plans to introduce a sugar levy on the soft drinks industry in the next two years.

He said: "Money from this new [sugar] levy will be used to double the funding we dedicate to sport in every primary school."

It will be imposed on companies according to the volume of the sugar-sweetened drinks they produce or import. There will be two bands - one for total sugar content above 5 grammes per 100 millilitres and a second, higher band for the most sugary drinks with more than 8 grammes per 100 millilitres.

Pure fruit juices and milk-based drinks will be excluded, and the smallest producers will have an exemption from the scheme.

Mr Osborne said that, at present, five-year-old children are consuming their bodyweight in sugar every year and experts predict that within a generation more than half of all boys and 70% of girls could be overweight or obese.

The Chancellor announced a series of actions to tackle tax avoidance and evasion totally £12billion, including moves to end the use of "personal service companies" by public sector employees to minimise their tax liabilities.

Mr Osborne also introduced additional spending cuts totally £3.5billion by 2020 lower than the £4billion predicted when he said they would amount to around 50p in every £100 the Government spends

Graphic shows key points in George Osborne's 2016 summer budget.
Graphic shows key points in George Osborne's 2016 summer budget.

He said: "I can report on solid steady growth. An economy on course for a surplus. A Britain prepared for whatever the world throws at us."

Fuel duty remains frozen for the sixth year in a row and the Chancellor announced that duty on beer and cider would also be frozen.

Mr Osborne also announced plans for every primary and secondary school in England to become an academy.

And that 25% of secondary schools will be able to opt in to a longer school day from September 2017 so that they can offer a wider range of activities for pupils. There will be up to £285million a year to pay for this.

The Chancellor also announced a "major new package of support worth over £115m to support those who are homeless and reduce rough sleeping".

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) welcomed the Budget, particularly its emphasis on reforming business rates and lowering tax on small businesses.

Budget 2016: Key points at-a-glance [Graphic]

NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: "Overall this is positive budget for small traders with its emphasis on lowering tax, reforming business rates and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs”

“With the Chancellor announcing that many small retailers will now be paying no rates at all and a big extension in Small Business Rates Relief Scheme in Great Britain, the NI Executive has some serious catching up to with reforming our business rates”

“If a typical corner shop in Barnstaple will pay no business rates under this Budget, why cannot this be the case for corner shops in Ballymena or any other local towns?

“We await to see the detail of this Business Rate cut for Northern Ireland in the Barnett Formula”

Mr Roberts also welcomed the freezing of fuel duty.

He said: "The cutting of Corporation Tax to 17% will clearly reduce the cost of a local 12.5% for the NI Executive Budget. Many of our members have vans and therefore welcome the freezing of Fuel Duty.

“Taking 1.3million people out of tax is a positive measure as means more spending in our retail sector across the UK.”

Read our live updates from the Budget 2016 and The Opposition's response as it happened:

Jeremy Corbyn Labour response

"I ask the Chancellor: If he can finance giveaways, why can he not fund dignity for disabled people?"

Jeremy Corbyn supports proposals on sugar

"This is a Chancellor for tax dodgers not tax payers, a Chancellor for hedge fund managers, not small businesses"

"So far 81% of the savings from the Tories’ tax and benefit changes will have come from women’s pockets"

"Osborne's priorities clear, half a million disabled people lose over £1billion, while corporations handed billions in tax cuts"

Corbyn welcomes investment support for homeless but says it is the product of under-funding local authorities

"Everybody deserves a safe roof over their head".

"It was a budget for hedge fund managers"

"The poorest have suffered the greatest proportion of the losses. This Budget could have been a chance for real commitment to fairness and equality. The Chancellor has failed."

Chancellor has failed to balance the books and rebalance our economy

"This budget has unfairness at its core.

"Budget is culmination of six years of failure by chancellor," he said.

Live updates as George Osborne delivered his 2016 budget

Personal tax-free personal allowance

From April next year, I am raising the tax-free personal allowance to £11,500

From April next year I’m going to increase the Higher Rate threshold to £45,00

A pensions-related joke at the expense of the Liberal Democrats prompted laughter.

Mr Osborne said former Lib Dem pensions minister Steve Webb had claimed the Tories would do away with the lump sum.

The Chancellor told the House that the lump sum option will be kept but the Tories will “abolish the Liberal Democrats”.

Osborne jokes about abolishing the Liberal Democrats - DUP MP Ian Paisley puts hand on Tim Farron's shoulder as chamber erupts in laughter

Lifetime ISA

The ISA limit will be increased to £20,000 a year for all savers, and lifetime ISAs will be introduced for young people.

From April 2017, under-40s will be able to open lifetime ISAs and save up to £4,000 each year.

Every £4 saved in these new ISAs will be topped up by £1 from the Government, so if savers put in £4,000, the Government will give them £1,000 every year until they reach the age of 50.

Mr Osborne said: “You don’t have to choose between saving for your first home or saving for your retirement - with the new lifetime ISA the Government is giving you money to do both.

“For the basic rate taxpayer, that is the equivalent of tax-free savings into a pension and, unlike a pension, you won’t pay tax when you come to take your money out in retirement.”

Alcohol and tobacco

I am freezing beer and cider duty too

Duty frozen on whisky and other spirits

Tobacco duty continue to rise to 2% above inflation from 6pm

FUEL DUTY

Fuel duty will be frozen for sixth year in a row.

Indirect tax

£12 million from the Tampon Tax allocated to charities across the UK from Breast Cancer Care to the White Ribbon Campaign

SUGAR LEVY

Sugar levy on soft drinks industry

On companies introduced in 2 years time to give companies plenty of space to change product makes

"Money from this new [sugar] levy will be used to double the funding we dedicate to sport in every primary school"

It will be imposed on companies according to the volume of the sugar-sweetened drinks they produce or import. There will be two bands - one for total sugar content above 5 grammes per 100 millilitres and a second, higher band for the most sugary drinks with more than 8 grammes per 100 millilitres.

Pure fruit juices and milk-based drinks will be excluded, and the smallest producers will have an exemption from the scheme.

Mr Osborne said that, at present, five-year-old children are consuming their bodyweight in sugar every year and experts predict that within a generation more than half of all boys and 70% of girls could be overweight or obese.

EDUCATION

We are setting schools free from local education authority bureaucracy

We will put the next generation first

Mr Osborne suggests teaching maths to age 18

We are going to introduce a fair National Funding Formula

Every primary and secondary school in England to become an academy

25% of secondary schools will be able to opt in to a longer school day from September 2017 so that they can offer a wider range of activities for pupils. There will be up to £285 million a year to pay for this.

FLOOD DEFENCE

"£700 million boost to our resilience and flood defences"

HOMELESS

"A major new package of support worth over £115m to support those who are homeless and reduce rough sleeping"

NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Ireland working with Secretary of State for devolution of corporation tax in Northern Ireland.

4million to establish air ambulance service for Northern Ireland

"We'll use over £4m from LIBOR fines to help establish the first Air Ambulance service for Northern Ireland"

SMALL BUSINESS RATE RELIEF

"A typical hairdressers in Leeds will pay no business rates"

By April 2017 600,000 small business will pay no business rates at all . That's an annual saving of up to nearly 6,000 forever

"Today I am more than doubling Small Business Rate Relief, and I’m more than doubling it permanently"

CORPORATION TAX

Reduce rate of corporation tax to 17% by April 2020

The Chancellor announce a series of action to tackle tax avoidance and evasion totally £12billion, including moves to end the use of "personal service companies" by public sector employees to minimise their tax liabilities.

Mr Osborne says he will be introducing additional spending cuts totally £3.5billion by 2020 lower than the £4billion predicted when he said they would amount to around 50p in every £100 the Government spends

I can report on solid steady growth. An economy on course for a surplus. A Britain prepared for whatever the world throws at us

GENDER PAY GAP

Gender pay gap has never been smaller

Chancellor: In 2019-20 Britain is set to have a surplus of £10.4bn

"In 2017-18, it [the deficit] falls to 1.9%. Then it falls again to 1.0% in 2018-19"

This is a budget for the next generation

Disability will be spending more in real terms than in any point under last labour government

Osborne says disability budget will rise in real terms by more than £1b

The country will be spending no more than the country raises in taxes

Osborne says if government hadn't tackled govt spending in 2010 UK would have borrowed extra £930bn.

Consumer inflation forecast revised down from 1% to 0.7% for 2016

Security of families and businesses depends on Britain living within its means

EU leave vote could bring "period of uncertainty"

Britain will be stronger, safer within a reformed European Union

GROWTH FORECAST

Growth forecast for 2017 revised down from 2.5% to 2.2%

Growth forecast for 2016 revised down from 2.4% to 2.2%

OBR forecast it [UK GDP] will grow by 2% this year, then 2.2% again in 2017, and then 2.1% in each of the three years after that

In 2014 we were fastest growing major advanced economy in the world . In 2015 we were ahead of everyone except America

“When I became Chancellor we borrowed £1 in every £4 we spent. Next year it will be £1 in every £14"

OBR says world economic outlook is materially weaker

OBR has revised down growth in the world economy and in world trade

OBR tell us today that in every year of the forecast our economy grows and so too does our productivity

Government will "redouble our efforts to make Britain fit for the future"

We choose to put the next generation first

Cocktail of risks" means UK must act now to protect economy

'Today I report on a deficit down by two thirds, falling each year'

British economy is on course for a budget surplus

Financial markets are turbulent

British economy is growing because we pursued a long term economic plan

EXPECTATIONS

Concerns about economic uncertainty is expected to cast their shadow over Mr Osborne's budget with plans to impose a further £4billion of spending cuts to allow him to meet his fiscal target of getting the nation's finances into surplus by the next election in 2020.

Mr Osborne is expected to unveil "a budget where we act now so we don't pay later" in order to meet the "new challenge" facing the country.

Mr Osborne will make education reforms a key part of his plan to "put the next generation first".

The Chancellor is set to announce that every state school in England will become an academy by 2022 as he unveils a £1.5bn package of additional funding for education.

The cash will also allow some secondaries to offer a longer school day, remaining open after the traditional "home time bell" at 3.30pm for five hours or more a week for additional lessons or extracurricular activities.

Another area of interest will be whether Mr Osborne hikes fuel duty for the first time in five years - raising £1bn for every 2p on a litre at the pumps - despite pressure from Conservative MPs to hold back.

He has already given in to backbench protests by ditching a mooted plan to reform tax relief on pensions.

And there is speculation that he will nudge up insurance premium tax.

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