From austerity measures to schools shake-up
In a couple of hours we’ll see George Osborne sashaying into the House of Commons flaunting the scruffy red briefcase to deliver his eighth Budget as chancellor.
Apart from hollering “the long term economic plan is working” a dozen times, here’s what we expect he’ll announce:
1. Fresh austerity measures
The chancellor is set to announce fresh austerity measures today. These will include the £4bn spending cuts he announced recently.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Osborne said he would cut a further “50p from every £100 the government spends” by 2020.
2. Selling off public assets
Osborne will announce plans to sell off public sector assets to fund new infrastructure projects.
Last week, Network Rail chief executive Mike Carne said the network operator could raise as much as £1.8bn through the sale of 7,500 properties.
Stations to be put on the market include London Waterloo, London Paddington and Birmingham New Street.
In a statement, Network Rail said: “We are looking to generate some £1.8bn of funds from our property assets by 2019, enabling us to invest in building a bigger, better railway.
“We’re taking a long hard look at which assets, ensuring we keep what we need to grow and expand the railway, but then looking at ways we can realise best value from the rest to reinvest.”
3. Crackdown on tax avoiders
The chancellor is expected to announce a crackdown on tax avoiders after facing backlash for supporting Google’s back-tax bill of £130m. He’s expected to announce measures to make it tougher for international companies from shifting profits to minimise tax bills.
4. Schools shake-up
Osborne is set to announce plans to turn every school in England into an academy independent of local authority control. According to the Guardian, draft legislation is set to be published by Thursday.
The chancellor is also set to announce an end to “the Victorian tradition” of the school day finishing at 3.30pm. From 2017, secondary pupils will stay in school for at least an hour longer every day doing extra lessons, sports or art.
According to various media reports, head teachers will be invited to bid for extra funding to facilitate these activities and pay overtime to staff.
5. Personal allowance
Personal allowance currently stands at £11,000 and is expected to go up to £11,300.
Osborne confirmed yesterday that the Budget will give green light to Crossrail 2. He’s set to announce investment worth £80m in project.
— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) 15 March 2016
In a statement yesterday, Osborne said: “In the Budget tomorrow, I’m going to give the green light to Crossrail 2 in London and the new High Speed 3 link across the north of England.”
He added: “An absolutely crucial part of improving the economy of our country is making sure we invest in our northern powerhouse, and improving transport links across the north of England will be a huge boost to the economy of the north of England and the whole of the United Kingdom.”
7. Beer tax
Rumours are rife that the chancellor is set to freeze beer taxes in today’s budget. He’s expected to announce that there will be no increase in beer duty.
In his last three budgets, Osborne has cut beer duty by 1p.