On 13th March 2019, Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered his Spring Statement to Parliament. Despite the uncertain impacts of Brexit, the statement featured mostly positive projections regarding the UK economy and employment rate, as well as updates on the progress that has been made since the announcement of the 2018 budget.
- The 2019 UK economy growth forecast predicts further growth every year for the next five years, with the economy growing faster than the economies of France, Italy and Japan.
- The unemployment rate is at 4 per cent, which is the lowest it has been since 1975. In addition, the government predicts over 600,000 additional people will be in work by 2023.
- The government will allocate extra funding to tackle serious violence and knife crime concerns, providing £100 million to police forces in the most affected areas of England and Wales.
- The government confirmed that they will hold a Spending Review, which will include three-year budgets for resource spending in the event of an agreement on a Brexit deal.
Highlights for Businesses and Individuals
- The National Living Wage will rise from £7.83 to £8.21, and the National Minimum Wage rates will increase as well in April. These wage rises are increasing at their fastest pace in over a decade, growing faster than inflation.
- The government’s plan of increasing the amount of homes by an average of 300,000 a year by the mid-2020s continues to make strides. The government shared its progress:
- As part of the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme, the government will pledge up to £3 billion of borrowing by housing associations in England to support delivery of nearly 30,000 affordable homes.
- The government intends to use £717 million from the £5.5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund to unlock up to 37,000 homes at sites including Old Oak Common in London, the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and Cheshire.
- The government is accelerating the shift to a clean economy.
- In order to help small businesses reduce energy bills and emissions, the government is implementing a call for evidence on a business energy efficiency scheme to explore investment in energy efficiency measures.
- The government will introduce a Future Homes Standard by 2025, so that new build homes possess low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency.
- The government is providing additional support for evolving science and technologies.
- The government announced £79 million in funding for a new supercomputer in Edinburgh – five times faster than current abilities – with processing power that will foster discoveries in medicine, climate science and aerospace, building on previous British breakthroughs in targeted treatments for arthritis and HIV.
- The government is attempting to foster a competitive UK market post-Brexit with international travel changes.
- Starting in June 2019, citizens of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea will be allowed to use e-gates at UK airports and Eurostar terminals to improve the flow of passengers and UK border experience. Landing cards will also be abolished from June 2019.
For more details, read the full Spring Statement here.