May DENIES she is paving the way for a general election after Chancellor splurges £100bn on tax cuts for millions of workers and bolstering NHS in giveaway Budget
Theresa May today denied she is paving the way for a general election after the Chancellor splurged £100billion on tax cuts for millions of workers and bolstering the NHS in the Budget.
The Prime Minister tried to quell speculation that the country could go back to the polls if she manages to strike a Brexit deal – saying an election is ‘not in the national interest’.
The comments, as she attended a conference in Oslo, came as Philip Hammond defended his Budget bonanza, which put hundreds of pounds in the pockets of workers by raising the basic and higher tax thresholds.
The financial package saw Mr Hammond open the spending taps to pour money into the NHS, social care and defence – but he could now miss his target for putting the government’s books in the black by 2025.
Asked whether the Budget meant she was considering an election, Mrs May said: ‘No. We are not preparing for another general election. That would not be in the national interest.’
Speaking at a conference in Oslo today, the PM tried to quell speculation that the country could go back to the polls if she manages to strike a Brexit deal – saying an election is ‘not in the national interest’
Philip Hammond (pictured today on GMB) has defended his giveaway budget as he insisted that the £400million pot for schools that was branded ‘inadequate’ by rivals would help head teachers but some ‘new whiteboards or a couple of computers’
Mr Hammond was presented with a mug branding him ‘Prime Minister’ on GMB today after he launched a huge spending spree ahead of Brexit next March
Mrs May praised the Budget, saying: ‘Austerity coming to an end isn’t just about more money into our public services, it’s about more money in people’s pockets as well.
‘Yesterday, we confirmed that announcement that we had made in the summer of giving the biggest single injection of extra money into our National Health Service in its history.
‘When we first said it in the summer we suggested we might have to raise taxes, we would have to raise taxes, to fund part of that.
‘What was clear in the Budget yesterday is we have fully funded that … extra money into our NHS and not raising taxes.
‘Indeed, we have cut taxes for 32 million people.’
In his Budget yesterday, the Chancellor said he would raise hundreds of millions of pounds a year by hitting web giants – who have been accused of failing to pay their fair share – with a levy based on revenues.
But the scale of the new levy was dwarfed by the huge spending splurge unveiled in the package, totalling an eye-watering £100billion over the next five years.
Billions of pounds will also be pumped into mental health and defence, while the troubled Universal Credit benefits reforms will be bailed out with another £1billion of ‘transitional’ protections and £1.7billion in improved work allowances – effectively reversing cuts previously imposed by George Osborne.
Increases to tax thresholds will be raised faster than previously promised – saving around 32 million workers up to £860 a year each.
Mr Hammond said the giveaways were possible due to the ‘tough decisions’ the government had made over the past eight years – which had brought better growth forecasts and lower borrowing.
But the Chancellor appears to have all-but abandoned his goal of getting the public finances into the black by 2025, in favour of loosening the purse string.
Labour’s John McDonnell today said he believed the government might be looking to a snap election – even though the next vote is not due until 2022.
‘The Tories usually do this. If a general election is coming, what they’ll do is they’ll splash out some money and then if they win the election they then start cutting it back again,’ he told GMB.
He also infuriated some senior Labour figures by indicating that he would back the tax cut – despite claims that they disproportionately benefit the better-off.
‘We will support the tax cuts at the moment on the basis that it will inject some demand into the economy,’ he said.
The House of Commons was packed to the rafters to hear the Chancellor deliver his pre-Brexit Budget yesterday afternoon (pictured)
The Chancellor said he was safeguarding ‘Britain’s future’ and helping the ‘strivers’ as he told the House of Commons (pictured yesterday) he will pump more money into the NHS, social care, mental health and the armed forces
Mr Hammond said it was ‘right and moral’ for the Tories to implement their manifesto pledges.
‘It is right and moral for a Conservative to deliver on the commitments that we make in our election manifesto,’ he said.
‘People have a right to expect that when politicians go before them in a general election and make a very clear commitment they deliver on that commitment.’
Meanwhile, Mr Hammond has defended handing schools a £400million pot for schools after it was branded ‘inadequate’ by critics who have been demanding an end to austerity.
He said schools would be ‘very happy’ to receive the ‘nice little gesture’, which works out at £10,000 for each primary and £50,000 for each secondary in England.
He argued schools would see a full new spending plan next year amid a storm of criticism the cash injection would not address serious shortages in the classroom.
The Chancellor admitted that outside of health most of Whitehall and local government will have to make do with ‘flat’ budgets after inflation is taken into account.
Mr Hammond told GMB today: ‘Schools funding will be dealt with in the Spending Review. We put £1.3 billion of additional money into schools funding last year to protect per pupil spending in our schools and all of these things will be dealt with in the Spending Review.
‘What I did yesterday was nothing to do with that process. It was simply giving back a little bit of the money that we have saved this year so that schools can buy the odd little piece of kit that they need.’
The Chancellor opened himself up to criticism by remarking on the Today programme that new teachers had to be paid ‘every year’ as he tried to justify the one-off payments.
Mr Hammond said critics complaining there was no announcement of major additional funding for police forces and schools had ‘misunderstood’ the nature of the Budget.
Asked if the mass giveaway was a sign the Tories were preparing for a snap election, Mr Hammond told GMB: I hope not. What we are preparing for is Britain’s future.
‘We’ve spent a very long time rebuilding our economy after the crisis under the last Labour government, rebuilding our position, getting the economy working again, getting our public finances back into order.
‘We’ve now turned a corner and we are able to give Britain a bit of good news.’
The Chancellor has already warned that this dramatic giveaway Budget assumes that there will be a Brexit deal – hinting that a collapse in the knife-edge negotiations with Brussels could undermine plans to draw a line under austerity.
He said he was ‘confident’ there will be a deal, suggesting it would bring a ‘double dividend’ from better growth and enabling him to free up the Brexit warchest.
But he revealed he is increasing spending on preparations for no-deal from £1.5billion to £2billion next year, and said if there is no settlement with the EU he is ready to ‘upgrade’ the Spring Statement to a full Budget.
Among the measures announced by Mr Hammond yesterday were:
There had been speculation that Mr Hammond was hemmed in after the PM promised to inject £25billion extra into the NHS by 2023.
But he was given wriggle room thanks to better-than-expected tax receipts – particularly from corporation tax – lower borrowing, and lower unemployment, which staved off the need for mooted tax hikes such as curbs on pension reliefs.
North Sea oil income has also risen sharply thanks to higher prices on the global markets.
Alongside the ‘digital tax’, Mr Hammond also raised around a billion a year from closing tax loopholes for contractors, while restricting employment allowance National Insurance reliefs for larger business will bring in up to £320million a year more.
Meanwhile, the nine-month delay to the rollout of Universal Credit eased the pressure by £2billion over the five-year Budget forecast period – although that was ploughed straight back into bailing out the troubled scheme.
Measures to clamp down on tax avoidance, evasion, and unfair outcomes are expected to raise another £2billion over the next five years.
To appease demands for an end to austerity, the Chancellor chose to spend the entirety of his windfall instead of ensuring he meets his pledge to wipe out the deficit by the middle of the 2020s.
Increasing the personal allowance a year early costs the Treasury around nine billion pounds over five years, while the NHS will be getting more than £27billion extra annually by 2023-24.
As a result, the OBR said the government will still be in the red by £19.8billion in 2023-24, whereas it could have been £billion in the black if Mr Hammond had not loosened the purse strings.
Mr Hammond said the OBR was estimating that growth would be 1.6 per cent next year, up from 1.3 per cent in the spring statement. The figure for 2020 is up to 1.4 per cent from 1.3 per cent, while it is unchanged at 1.4 per cent in 2021 and 2022.
He said the settlement for departments had been negative in recent spending rounds but next year it would average 1.2 per cent – and could be higher.
‘When our EU negotiations deliver a deal, as I am confident they will… I expect that the ‘deal dividend’ will allow us to provide further funding for the Spending Review,’ he said.
On the issue of austerity, Mr Hammond said the country had reached a ‘defining moment on this, long, hard journey’ as it built a ‘new future’ outside the EU.
‘I can report to the British people that their hard work is paying of, and the era of austerity finally coming to an end,’ he said.
Setting out the digital tax plans, Mr Hammond said progress towards an international pact had been ‘painfully slow’.
‘We cannot simply talk forever. So we will now introduce a UK Digital Services Tax,’ he said.
‘This will be a narrowly-targeted tax on the UK-generated revenues of specific digital platform business models.
‘It will be carefully designed to ensure it is established tech giants – rather than our tech start-ups – that shoulder the burden of this new tax.’
Mr Hammond was congratulated by Mrs May (right) and Treasury minister Liz Truss (left) as he sat down after his speech
The Chancellor has been given some wriggle room with his deficit targets thanks to better-than-expected tax receipts
The Chancellor said in his Budget that growth had been upgraded marginally by the Office for Budget Responsibility
The Chancellor is treading a fine line between ending nearly a decade of austerity and keeping the deficit under control
The Chancellor stressed that the charge, due to come into effect in April 2020, would not be added to the cost of online sales for consumers. He said it would only affect firms with global revenues of more than £500million a year.
He confirmed that the first stage of the NHS long-term plan will be to help achieve ‘parity of esteem’ between mental and physical health services.
Mr Hammond argued that pumping £2billion a year into improving access to support will relieve pressure on other frontline services, such as the police that help people with mental health issues every day and sometimes have to use police station cells.
What was announced in Philip Hammond’s Budget?
An extra £25billion-a -year will be pumped into the NHS by 2023.
It includes a £2bn a year mental health fund to pay for every A&E and school to get a mental health unit.
An extra £500million will be pumped into planning for a no deal Brexit – rising the total from £1.5bn to £2bn. Mr Hammond also said the Spring Statement next year could be turned into a full Budget if there is a no deal Brexit.
A £250million fund to install super-fast broadband across Britain’s countryside
Business rates will be cut by nearly a third for half a million small retailers ans ministers try to save Britain’s high streets.
England’s roads will get an extra £28.8billion, while a pothole fund of £420 million will be set up and fuel duty will be frozen for the ninth year in a row.
The Chancellor announced that PFI will be scrapped as he puts an end to Labour ‘s legacy
The Treasury is giving a one off £400m payment to schools to help them buy equipment. This amounts to £10,000 for every primary and £50,000 for every secondary.
The MoD will get an extra £1bn to help Britain’s Armed Forces following dire warnings over a £20bn blackhole in their finances over the next decade.
Britain will splash out £60million on planting 10 million trees across England.
The self-employed will have to pay national insurance contributions for the first time. The tax raid will prove unpopular with white van men, but could bring in £1.2bn year by 2023.
Weddings will be allowed to take place in pubs, hotels and restaurants as Philip Hammond slashes red rape.
The extra cash will help pay for the provision of round-the-clock ‘comprehensive’ mental health support in every major accident and emergency department, ensuring anyone experiencing a crisis can get rapid specialist help.
Officials say it will be backed up with more mental health ambulances and the establishment of dedicated mental health teams in schools, linking them to other support services.
When Mrs May announced the extra funding for the NHS, she suggested taxpayers will need to contribute a ‘bit more’ to pay for it. However ministers have yet to say exactly where the money will come from.
Mr Hammond was handed a windfall of £13billion due to better-than-expected borrowing figures, easing some of the pressure to put up taxes.
Delivering a vicious swipe at PFI schemes – which have been condemned as too costly and still leaving the taxpayer bearing the risk – Mr Hammond said:
‘I remain committed to the use of public-private partnership where it delivers value for the taxpayer and genuinely transfers risk to the private sector. But there is compelling evidence that the Private Finance Initiative does neither,’ he said.
‘We will honour existing contracts. But the days of the public sector being a pushover, must end. We will establish a centre of excellence to actively manage these contracts in the taxpayers’ interest starting in the health sector. And we will go further. I have never signed off a PFI contract as Chancellor and I can confirm today that I never will. I can announce that the Government will abolish the use of PFI and PF2 for future projects.’
Mr Hammond said from next April people would be able earn £12,500 a year tax-free and will not pay 40 per cent tax until they earn more than £50,000.
Those earning £12,500 will save £130 a year compared to their current income tax bill thanks to the rise in the personal allowance.
A far bigger saving will arrive for those earning £50,000, who will keep an extra £860 compared to their current income tax bill.
Treasury sources said the health funding injection stood regardless of the Brexit situation – but hinted that departments could have to make do with less if there is no agreement.
Mr Hammond said yesterday that the government would have to ‘wait and see what the situation was’ on ending austerity if there is no Brexit deal.
But Downing Street slapped down the Chancellor today, making clear the spending commitments in the Budget stood whether or not there is agreement with the EU.
The Office for Budget Responsibility said in March that there was £15billion ‘headroom’ in the government’s plans which could be deployed.
‘What the Chancellor was pointing out in relation to a budget was that if economic circumstances change, he would consider economic interventions. That’s what you would expect any sensible Chancellor to do,’ the spokesman said.
‘All of the spending commitments that the Chancellor will set out today are funded irrespective of a deal.
‘What the Chancellor said yesterday was that he would use the fiscal reserves that we have built up through hard work and sound economic management to ensure that Britain will succeed whatever the circumstances.
‘The Chancellor has spoken on numerous occasions about having maintained what he would describe as ‘fiscal firepower’ which he will be able to use in the event of a no-deal scenario.’
Mr Hammond unveiled the latest forecasts for the national debt, which is falling from a peak after the credit crunch
Mr Hammond heaped praise on the British ‘jobs miracle’ today as he made his statement to the House of Commons today
Fuel duty will be frozen by the Chancellor for the ninth year in a row, saving drivers and businesses millions of pounds
Tech firms could slash investment in Britain if Philip Hammond imposes his new ‘digital tax’ on giants like Amazon and Facebook, industry leaders warned.
The Chancellor today revealed the UK is set to be one of the first countries in the world to bring in the new levy to make sure tech giants pay more taxes.
He said he would have preferred a ‘global agreement’ but has decided to ‘go it alone’ in taxing companies like Google on their advertising revenue.
But the plan was blasted by the digital industry, with industry leaders warning that firms could pull their investment just when Britain’s economy is already facing Brexit uncertainty.
Julian David, said, chief executive of techUK, which represents digital companies, said it ‘risks undermining the UK’s reputation as the best place to start a tech business or to invest’.
Philip Hammond smacked online giants like Amazon (file) with a new digital tax today in a bid to make sure tech giants pay a fair share of corporate taxes
Philip Hammond ploughed an extra £1billion into Universal Credit to make the controversial welfare reform work.
The Chancellor said he had listened to critics on his own side and was making sure existing welfare claimants would not lose out when they are moved onto the new benefit.
Mr Hammond also announced he would reverse cuts made by George Osborne when he was Chancellor to the work allowance part of the benefit – costing £1.7billion a year in 2023.
Mr Hammond said: ‘Today I can go further with a package of measures worth a £1billion over 5 years enabling the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to introduce additional protections as existing welfare claimants move onto Universal Credit and she will announce details when she introduces the Managed Migration Regulations later this year.
‘Secondly, I have heard the concerns about the rates and allowances within the design of the system. In my first Autumn Statement I reduced the Universal Credit taper rate from 65% to 63%.
‘And today I can tell the House I am increasing work allowances in Universal Credit by £1,000 per annum at a cost of £1.7bn annually once roll-out is complete benefitting 2.4 million working-families-with-children and people with disabilities by £630 per year.’
Mr Hammond boosted the tax-free allowances in the Budget
Britain’s workers got a shot in the arm in the Budget, as the Chancellor said he would cut income tax by raising thresholds a year early.
From next April people will be able earn £12,500 a year tax-free and will not pay 40 per cent tax until they earn more than £50,000.
Those earning £12,500 will save £130 a year compared to their current income tax bill thanks to the rise in the personal allowance.
A far bigger saving will arrive for those earning £50,000, who will keep an extra £860 compared to their current income tax bill.
The announcement pulls forward the Tories’ manifesto pledge to raise the thresholds from 2020 and the Government says it will cut taxes for 32million people.
In the build-up to the Budget it had been rumoured that Chancellor Philip Hammond would row back on the promise and freeze the rise in the tax thresholds in order to fund extra spending on the NHS.
Yet, in a final announcement in his Budget statement he pulled a rabbit from the hat and said that he would instead deliver the tax cut early – at the start of the next tax year in April 2019.
Mr Hammond said: ‘My idea of ending austerity does not involve increasing people’s tax bills’.
Duty on beer, cider and spirits is to be frozen for a year, the Chancellor has announced
Beer and cider drinkers may raise a glass to Philip Hammond after he froze duty on both drinks in his Budget.
But wine-lovers will be less impressed with the Chancellor after he announced duties on bottles of red and white will increase with inflation. Treasury sources insisted Mr Hammond prioritised the most popular drinks sold in pubs.
Spirits will escape increases, with the duty on a bottle of Scotch or gin also frozen compared to the inflation assumption in the OBR forecast.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘Pub-goers across the UK will be toasting the Chancellor tonight following his decision to freeze beer duty.
‘This early Christmas present will save brewers, pubs and pub-goers £110 million and secure upwards of 3,000 jobs that would have been lost had beer duty gone up.’
If the duties had risen with inflation, drinkers would have seen 2p added to the cost of a pint of beer, 1p on a pint of cider and 30p on a bottle of whisky, but the duty will remain the same.
Tobacco duty will however continue to rise at inflation plus 2%.
The Chancellor has vowed to pump cash into the country’s major highways, which have fallen into a state of disrepair after a ‘scorching summer and harsh winter’
Philip Hammond declared war on potholes as he promised an extra £30billion for England’s roads.
The Chancellor has vowed to pump cash into the country’s major highways, which have fallen into a state of disrepair after a ‘scorching summer and harsh winter’.
The pledge, unveiled in today’s Budget, makes good on a promise made by the ex Tory Chancellor George Osborne to find the extra cash for roads.
It is the single biggest cash injection in the country’s largest roads and will be paid for by money raised from Vehicle Excise Duty.
This will be the first time ever that ‘road tax’ raised in England will only be spent on roads.
Some £28.8bn will be spent on strategically important roads, such as Highways England motorways and major local routes.
While an extra £420 million will be given to councils so they can fix potholes, repair damaged roads and keeping bridges safe and open.
Another £150m will be pumped into improving local junctions, allowing better access to places were people work and England’s high streets.
An extra £160million is to be ploughed into anti-terror policing after the budget
An extra £160million is to be ploughed into helping Britain’s police fight the growing threat of terrorism.
It emerged last week that Scotland Yard and the security services are running a record high of more than 700 live investigations into suspected terrorists.
Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled a new pot of money to make sure authorities can keep pace with the spiralling problem.
The extra money announced today is said to be the equivalent of 1,000 extra officers.
The new fund is being pushed as a signal that ‘austerity’ policies are finished and the government is again investing in public services.
Police officer numbers have fallen by 21,000 since 2010, prompting a series of warnings by top police officers that continued squeezing of budgets will have an impact of levels of crime.
Police and MI5 are mounting a record 700-plus live terrorism investigations.
There are around 3,000 active ‘subjects of interest’, plus a wider pool of more than 20,000 individuals who have previously featured in inquiries.
While activity inspired by Islamic State or al-Qaida accounts for the largest share of the counter-terror work, agencies are also confronting a mounting far-right threat.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured talking to female troops in Salisbury last week) has been in a long-running battle with the Treasury for more cash for Britain’s Armed Forces
Philip Hammond has confirmed an extra £1billion for the military afterTory anger erupted over cuts to Britain’s Armed Forces.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has been in a long-running battle with the Treasury for more cash for Britain’s Armed Forces.
And dozens of Tory MPs had issued dark warnings that they could rebel against today’s Budget unless extra funding was found.
Mr Hammond told the Commons today that the extra cash will boost cyber capabilities and anti-submarine warfare capacity and maintain the pace of the Dreadnought programme.
The clamour for more cash for the Ministry of Defence came after a damning report exposed a £20bn blackhole in the department’s finances over the next decade.
Mr Hammond has come under to find the extra money after a major report by the National Audit Office (NAO) warned of the huge shortfall in the MoD’s funding plan.
Motorists will save around £1.20 on every tank by the cancellation of the latest 2p a litre on petrol and diesel (file image)
Fuel duty will be frozen again for the ninth year in a row, Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed in his Budget.
The policy was announced by Theresa May at the Tory conference in Birmingham earlier this month, tightening further Mr Hammond’s room for manoeuvre.
Motorists will save around £1.20 on every tank by the cancellation of the latest 2p a litre on petrol and diesel.
Announcing the new move today, Mr Hammond said motorists had now saved £1,000 since 2010.
There had been speculation the near decade long freeze could be axed as it has cost the Treasury billions in revenue planned under a fuel duty ‘escalator’ designed under Gordon Brown to help the environment.
Mr Hammond has previously hinted at continuing the freeze but warned the policy would cost the Treasury £38bn over the next three years, which he admitted was ‘twice as much as we spend on all NHS nurses and doctors each year’.
However, the freeze has been seen as an iconic symbol of blue-collar Conservatism since its introduction by George Osborne in 2010.
The Chancellor must keep Tory rebels onside through the difficult process of winning parliamentary support for the Chequers Brexit deal – as well as for potential tax rises he has also suggested he needs to make to fund the NHS.
High streets will be boosted by a new fund today as online shops face higher taxes, the Chancellor will announce
Britain’s love for online shopping means high streets will need to become smaller with fewer stores and more bars and restaurants, Philip Hammond revealed.
In today’s Budget, the Chancellor set out a timetable for bringing in a digital tax so internet giants pay their fair share.
He also announced a £650million Future High Streets Fund that will help town centres adapt, as well as a £900million business rates cut for independent retailers.
But Mr Hammond – who admitted being an Amazon shopper – told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday yesterday: ‘The British have taken to online shopping like no other nation on earth. Our high streets have to change.
‘We’ve got to help the high street to evolve and the high street of the future will have fewer retail outlets and more leisure destinations, more food and drink outlets.
‘I expect the high streets of the future will be smaller with more of the areas around them redeveloped as housing.’
Philip Hammond has unveiled a commemorative Brexit 50p coin to mark Britain’s departure from the EU.
The coin will be available from March 29, 2019 at 11pm – the day the UK leaves the EU – and is expected to carry the words ‘Friendship With All Nations’.
The Brexit coin will be available from March 29, 2019 at 11pm – the day the UK leaves the EU – and is expected to carry the words ‘Friendship With All Nations’
The coin has to be personally signed off by the Queen, as it will bear her head, and is reportedly a bid to win over pro-Brexit MPs who have accused the Chancellor of being pessimistic over Brexit.
In 2016, the Royal Mint produced one-off coins featuring the much-loved Beatrix Potter character Peter Rabbit which sold on eBay for more than £20.
Schools will also get new dedicated teams to support pupils with mild and moderate mental health problems, the Chancellor announced
Every school in Britain will get a mental health support worker to help pupils suffering from depression, self-harm and eating disorders, Philip Hammond revealed .
The Chancellor announced in the Budget that at least one tenth of the £20 billion-a-year extra funding promised for the NHS will go to improving mental health services.
He will say the £2 billion-plus annual boost will help deliver a commitment to give patients suffering from mental health conditions the same level of care as those with physical ailments.
The extra cash will help pay for the provision of round-the-clock ‘comprehensive’ mental health support in every major accident and emergency department, ensuring anyone experiencing a crisis can get rapid specialist help. Officials say it will be backed up with more mental health ambulances and the establishment of dedicated mental health teams in schools, linking them to other support services.
More people will also be able to access mental health services at community drop-in centres so they do not need to go to A&E. The NHS will increase the number of ‘crisis cafes’, which offer out-of-hours support in the evenings and at weekends.
Specialist crisis teams for children and younger people will be established across the country to build links between schools, social services and young people’s mental health services.
Schools will also get new dedicated teams to support pupils with mild and moderate mental health problems.
Philip Hammond announced hat he is abolishing PFI (private finance initiative) contracts as he vowed to put another botched ‘Labour legacy behind us’.
The Chancellor said that he will never sign one of the controversial contracts while he is in Government.
His announcement comes just months after the collapse of Carillion – which had PFI contracts all over the country – earlier this year.
The collapse of the outsourcing giant resulted in 1,000 redundancies and left a question mark over many projects.
Mr Hammond announced an end to the controversial PFI programmes – which were massively rolled out under New Labour – in today’s Budget.
He told MPs in the Commons: ‘Half of the UK’s £600 billion infrastructure pipeline will be built and financed by the private sector.
The announcement comes just months after the collapse of Carillion – which had PFI contracts all over the country – earlier this year (pictured, a Carillion site)
‘And in financing public infrastructure I remain committed to the use of public-private partnership where it delivers value for the taxpayer and genuinely transfers risk to the private sector.
‘But there is compelling evidence that the Private Finance Initiative does neither.
‘We will honour existing contracts. But the days of the public sector being a pushover, must end.
‘We will establish a centre of excellence to actively manage these contracts in the taxpayers’ interest starting in the health sector.
‘And we will go further. I have never signed off a PFI contract as Chancellor and I can confirm today that I never will.’
Philip Hammond delivered a string of toilet gags to the Commons while unveiling business rates relief on public loos during his Budget.
The Chancellor provoked laughter and groans in equal measure as he reeled off the sequence, which ended in the catch line, ‘This is the only news that didn’t leak.’
Local authorities will now be forced not to charge business rates on any toilets made available for public use, whether publicly or privately owned.
Mr Hammond said: ‘Local authorities have long been able to provide discretionary business rates relief to other bodies but not to themselves.
‘Following representations from my honourable friends for North Cornwall and St Austell and Newquay, I am pleased to provide a new mandatory business rates relief for public lavatories, so that local authorities can at last relieve themselves for the convenience of the house, Mr Deputy Speaker.
‘And without wishing to get unduly bogged down on this subject, this relief… (well at least I’m demonstrating that we are all British) will extend to any such facilities made available for public use whether privately or publicly owned.
‘And honestly I can say, Mr Deputy Speaker, that this is basically the only item in this Budget that hasn’t leaked.’
As a young professional, Laura Sears tries to save her money for a deposit on a house, so knowing she will not be punished at the fuel pumps is one less thing to worry about.
Laura, who drives a diesel Vauxhall Astra, is grateful for the fuel duty freeze for the ninth consecutive year.
The 28-year-old said: ‘Everything helps and when you’re trying to save, extra penny-pinching anywhere is useful.’
Fast lane: Laura Sears from Essex (pictured with her car) is grateful for the fuel duty freeze in this year’s Budget
Although Laura, who works in public relations, does not generally do a lot of motorway driving, she does use her car regularly to drive to the shops and elsewhere in the nearby towns of Hornchurch and Lakeside, which are both close to her parents’ home in Essex.
Although her area is generally very well-looked after, Laura is ‘very pleased’ that drivers all round the country will hopefully endure less bumpy rides after extra cash is diverted towards mending potholes.
Laura hopes to use any money she saves to move out of her parents’ house soon, but still will not be able to afford to live in London, where she works.
Since Stewart Hayman took over the family business with his father Clive in 1980, he has tried to keep the butcher’s shop relevant.
But despite his efforts to diversify by baking pies, curing meats and making ready meals, gradually rising business rates have threatened to push Hayman’s Butchers off the high street.
Although they do not have to pay rent on the building in Sidmouth, Devon, because his grandfather bought it outright in 1907, his business rates are £12,000 a year.
Mr Hayman said: ‘There’s no doubt about it, business rates have continued to creep up. The trouble is you’ve got to cope.
Fare deal: Butcher Stewart Hayman, from Devon, is pictured with his award-winning pies on Church Street in Sidmouth
‘In the last 12 to 14 months our trade has also dropped back at the same time. I had to lay-off a part- time lady earlier this year who had been working with us for 20 years. She was retiring age but you know, we had to make some savings somewhere.’ But following the business rates announcement he believes the high street and independent shops will have a chance to prosper again.
He said: ‘I’m very pleased with the budget. We could have a £3,000 drop in business rates.
‘The thing is with business rates, it bears no relation to your gross margin or your net margin, so even if the business wasn’t earning anything you’re still asked to pay. It’s hard.
‘I really think this will take pressure off the high street again and the pressure of the supermarkets will ease a bit, too.’
Thea Jaffe, 33, juggles two part-time teaching jobs and relies on housing and child benefit to keep herself afloat.
The single mother pays £1,200 a month in rent and £550 in nursery fees for her son Moses, three.
Although she works five days a week, she believes her efforts to earn a reasonable living are often futile because when she gets a bonus at work, her benefits are quickly taken away from her.
Currently, she gets £350 housing benefit which she receives every two weeks, £80 in child benefit a month, and a £500 government contribution to her son’s nursery fees.
Miss Jaffe, from north London, said: ‘Under the current system, it really hurts me that whenever I get a pay rise I get fewer benefits.
‘It’s so demoralising to feel like you’re on a hamster wheel getting nowhere. I would love a situation where I could be rewarded for my work rather than being punished for it.’
Reward for work: Thea Jaffe, from north London, is pictured with her son Moses. She is hopeful Universal Credit changes will improve her disposable income as a single mother