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Top takeaways from the Spring Statement 2019

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13/03/2019
Here's everything you need to know from chancellor Philip Hammond's Spring Statement...

Economy

The government said its “efforts to build a stronger, fairer economy are paying off”.

Since 2010, the UK economy has grown faster than France, Italy and Japan, Hammond said.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which was created in 2010 to provide independent analysis of the UK’s public finances, forecasts economic growth every year for the next five years and inflation to stay close to or at the 2% target.

Jobs and wages

The OBR forecasts 600,000 new jobs will be created by 2023.

The unemployment rate is currently 4%, the lowest since 1975, and the OBR predicts it will remain near historic lows over the next five years.

Wages are increasing at their fastest pace in over a decade, and are forecast to continue growing faster than inflation, which means more money in people’s pockets.

The government has commissioned a review of the latest international evidence on minimum wages to inform future National Living Wage policy after 2020.

Technology

The competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), will carry out a study of the digital advertising market after an independent review found it is dominated by two players and suffers from a lack of transparency

The government announced £79m funding for a new supercomputer in Edinburgh – five times faster than existing capabilities – whose processing power will contribute to discoveries in medicine, climate science and aerospace, and build on previous British breakthroughs including targeted treatments for arthritis and HIV.

Travel

From June, citizens of the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea will be permitted to use e-gates at UK airports and at Eurostar terminals. This will reduce queues and improve the flow of passengers and the overall experience at the UK border.

The UK will also begin to phase out landing cards from June 2019.

Period poverty

Free sanitary products will be available to girls in secondary schools in England from the next academic year to tackle so-called period poverty.

Knife crime

An extra £100m will go towards tackling serious violence and knife crime.

Housing & infrastructure

The government will guarantee up to £3bn of borrowing by housing associations in England to support delivery of around 30,000 affordable homes.

A further £717m from the £5.5bn Housing Infrastructure Fund will unlock up to 37,000 homes at sites including Old Oak Common in London, the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and Cheshire.

Tax

The government has called for evidence on how and where improvements can be made to ensure that insurance premium tax (IPT) operates fairly and efficiently.

Comparison site Comparethemarket says the government should scrap or cap IPT for younger drivers, adding this group already pays a substantial amount more in annual premiums compared to older drivers and has been disproportionately affected by the Treasury’s increases to the IPT rate, adding an average of £165 to their insurance costs.

The government is also looking at making it easier to amend tax returns.

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