Autumn Statement: Cuts keep Chancellor on track
25 November 2015
Author: Tristan Young
Chancellor George Osborne claims he is still on track to turn the UK budget from a deficit to a surplus within the next five years.
In the Autumn Statement which sets out how the Chancellor will spend £4 trillion over the rest of this parliament, Osborne said: "We have committed to running a surplus. Today, I can confirm that the public spending plans that I set out are forecast to deliver that surplus."
In his statement he reiterated his committed to cutting £12bn from the welfare budget but also announced large cuts for several other government departments including a 37% cut in the Department for Transport's operational budget even though he increased capital spending for infrastructure projects by 50%.
The Chancellor claimed GDP would rise by 2.4% this year and next, and then at 2.5% in 2017 and then back to 2.4% in 2018 and 2.3% in 2019, despite warning that global growth figures had been downgraded.
While there were no changes to direct taxation for UK companies, businesses were hit with an apprenticeship levy set at 0.5% of an employer's wage bill. This is expected to raise £3bn by the 2019-20 tax year. However, all firms taking part in the apprenticeship scheme will gain a £15,000 allowance.
As expected, the Chancellor repeated his previous commitment to allow those urban areas that have decided to elect a mayor to be able to increase business rates provided the additional funds are ringfenced for set infrastructure projects. He said he was "paving the way for 100% business rate retention, giving councils the power to cut business rates to boost growth".
The statement added: "The detail on how this will work will be set out by DCLG [Department for Communities and Local Government] alongside the Local Government settlement in December 2015."