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Budget 2017: Hammond pledges £650m for Northern Ireland Executive

 

By Jill Goligher

Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled his Budget promising to invest in technology, provide further funding for devolved authorities, business and the NHS and to continue restoring the public finances.

In it he pledged a city deal for Belfast and an additional £650m for Northern Ireland.

Read more: 'Local people' urged to take control of Budget pot for Northern Ireland

As Mr Hammond ended his speech, reviews of his performance began to flood in.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has condemned the Chancellor's budget saying it was a "record of failure with a forecast of more to come"

Responding to Mr Hammond's statement, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the House of Commons: "The reality will be a lot of people will be no better off and the misery that many are in will be continuing."

DUP MP Ian Paisley praised the abolishment of stamp duty for first time buyers. He posted on Twitter that the news was "Absolutely amazing."

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted a "long (ish) thread" in response to the Budget.

It started: "Announcement on oil and gas very welcome if overdue. Same on police and fire VAT - though no backdating disappointing and unfair to emergency services."

Here are the key announcements at a glance:

  • Stamp duty to be abolished for all first time buyers for properties up to £300,000..
  • New £34 billion fund will be introduced to develop construction skills across the country. Target of building 300,000 homes annually to be met "by the mid-2020s."
  • At least £44 billion of capital funding, loans and guarantees over next five years to support house-building and deliver 300,000 new homes a year.
  • UK income tax applied to mulitnational digital businesses form April 2019.
  • Switch from use of RPI to CPI measure of inflation in calculating business rates to be brought forward by two years to April 2018, saving businesses £2.3 billion over five years.
  • NHS to receive and extra £10 billion over the course of this Parliament.
  • Short-haul Air Passenger Duty rates and long-haul economy rates to be frozen, paid for by an increase on Premium class tickets and on private jets.
  • Tobacco duty escalator to continue at inflation plus 2%, with an additional 1% duty on hand rolling tobacco this year. Legislation to increase duty on high-strength low-quality alcohol from 2019.
  • Duty on cider, wine, spirits and beer have been frozen.
  • Fuel duty rise for petrol and diesel scheduled for April cancelled.
  • National living wage to rise by 4.4% from £7.50 an hour to £7.83 from April 2018.
  • Decisions taken in this Budget also means £650 million more for a Northern Ireland Executive.
  • A further £20 million to support further education colleges to prepare to deliver T-levels, government is to provide £40 million to train maths teachers. New £600 Maths Premium for schools, for every additional pupil who takes A level or Core maths.
  • An Investment of £500 million in a range of technological initiatives ranging from artificial intelligence, to 5G and full fibre broadband.
  • National Productivity Investment Fund is to be extended for a further year and expanded to more than £31 billion
  • Debt will peak at 86.5% of GDP this year, then fall to 86.4% next year; then 86.1%, 83.1% and 79.3% in subsequent years, reaching 79.1% in 2022/23.
  • OBR predicts inflation will peak at 3% this quarter before falling back towards its 2% target over the next year.
  • Budget Responsibility have forecasted a further 600,000 people in work by 2022.
  • £3 billion will be set aside over the next two years for Brexit preparations and stands ready to allocate further sums if and when needed.

Mr Hammond said that the Government would make progress on achieving a Brexit implementation agreement "a top priority in the weeks ahead".

The Budget would take "a balanced approach.... maintaining fiscal responsibility, as we at last see our debt peaking (while) continuing to invest in the skills and infrastructure that will support the jobs of the future," he said.

The borrowing forecast for 2018-19 has been revised down to £49.9 billion this year - £8.4 billion lower than forecast at the Spring Budget - is then predicted to fall in every year of the forecast from £39.5 billion next year to £25.6 billion in 2022/23, to reach its lowest level in 20 years.

The OBR have forecasted the structural deficit to be 1.3% of GDP in 2020/21.

Support for electric vehicles through the establishment of a new £400 million charging infrastructure fund, an extra £100 million in Plug-In-Car Grant, and £40 million for charging R&D.

New Universal Credit claimants in receipt of Housing Benefit to continue to receive it for two weeks as part of a £1.5 billion package to address concerns about the delivery of Universal Credit.

From April 2018, the first year vehicle excise duty rate for diesel cars that don't meet the latest standards will go up by one band, funding a new £220 million Clean Air Fund - but the hike in tax will not apply to vans.

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