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Today's business and finance round up 28th October 2021

🎉Budget bonanza

28th October 2021

Good morning Yesterday the Chancellor delivered the Autumn Budget, setting out the government’s tax and spending plan for the second time this year after the Spring Budget in March. The government had already spilled the beans on £20bn of spending so all eyes were on:- Which government departments were going to get more or less funding?- How was the extra spending going to be funded?- Would anything be done to address the rising cost of living?For the answers to these questions and more, read on!

Today's stories

  • Budget Day overview

  • UK economy recovering stronger than expected

ECONOMYBudget Day overview

What’s going on?The Chancellor announced that all government departments would see spending increases totalling £150bn by 2024-25, the largest increase in over 20 years.

Why is this important?

The government is turning on the spending taps after economic growth forecasts were upgraded and the impact of the pandemic is not as bad as previously thought. Key announcements from yesterday include:

  • A 50% discount on business rates for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors for a year, worth £1.7bn.

  • A scrapping of the planned rise in fuel duty, held instead at 57.95p per litre for the 12th year in a row after petrol prices hit a record this week.

  • A shake-up of air passenger duty to favour domestic flights.

  • An increase to the amount of Universal Credit for those in work.

  • A simplification of alcohol duty, with higher rates for stronger drinks, and a “draught relief” of a lower tax rate on draught beer and cider served from kegs and casks in pubs still recovering from the pandemic.

A stronger economy gives the Chancellor freedom to increase spending as tax revenues will be higher and benefits will be lower. Increasing tax rates is also another way to fund growing spending but these announcements came earlier in the year. In the March Budget the government revealed that corporation tax would rise from 19% to 25% in 2023 and that income tax and capital gains tax thresholds would not rise. Then last month it was announced that national insurance contributions would increase next year. TakeawayThis budget has been billed as good news for low paid workers, drivers and prosecco drinkers. The Chancellor has been generous in spending but the tax rises on the way mean that the proportion of tax paid, known as the tax burden, is 36% - highest since the 1950s.

ECONOMYUK economy recovering stronger than expected

As mentioned above, the increase in government spending has been funded by the uplift in growth forecasts for the UK economy from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).The OBR gives independent analysis of the UK's public finances and its GDP, unemployment and inflation forecasts are used by the government to assess how much cash will be available to spend.Earlier in the year the economy was expected to grow by 4% in 2021 but this has been upgraded to 6.5%. GDP is forecast to return to pre-Covid levels by the end of next year. The OBR has also downgraded its unemployment forecast from 12% down to 5.2% as the pandemic has not hit the economy as hard as previously feared.All this means that the economy is expected to generate higher tax revenues, freeing up around £35bn a year for the government to spend.Another upshot of the revised OBR forecasts is that the government will have to borrow less. Borrowing estimates has been lowered from 10.3% of GDP to 7.9% this year and falls to below 2% from 2023-24.The OBR forecasts will be a dream for the Chancellor. The extra funds generated by a stronger economy will be used to invest in public services, provide some tax relief to stressed parts of the economy and cut government debt. 

Stat of the day

The iconic budget red box was first used in 1860 and passed down to successive Chancellors until it fell apart in 2011 when a new one was produced

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