Here are some of the measures we didn’t see coming
Tax credit U-turn
Osborne made a U-turn on his previous pledge to change tax credits. The policy had been incredibly controversial, as before the election the chancellor had said tax credits were safe from cuts, but then made significant reductions for working people, including Tory voters.
He said: “I’ve had representations that these changes to tax credits should be phased in. I’ve listened to the concerns. I hear and understand them. And because I’ve been able to announce today an improvement in the public finances, the simplest thing to do is not to phase these changes in, but to avoid them altogether.”
Loans instead of grants for student nurses
In the spirit of “opening up access” to nursing courses, Osborne said grants for student nurses would be replaced with loans.
For “modernising” funding for student nurses read cutting bursaries #spendingreview
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) November 25, 2015
Encouraging councils to sell property to fund services
After previously loyal councils publically complained that selling assets to fund key services was unsustainable, it’s a surprise to some that Osborne has chosen to announce this should continue.
In a letter to David Cameron in September, leader of Oxfordshire County Council Ian Hudspeth wrote: “Capital income cannot be used to support revenue costs – it is neither legal, nor sustainable in the long terms since they are one-off receipts.”
Councils have to find even more money now. Bye parks Bye libraries Bye swimming pool Bye local amenities Vote Tory though eh.
— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) November 25, 2015
Just have to hope freedom for local councils to sell assets doesn’t include museum buildings, or collections. #spendingreview
— Dr Bendor Grosvenor (@arthistorynews) November 25, 2015
Tampon tax used for women’s charities
Osborne said that while EU rules meant the 5% VAT on tampons could not be removed, the money brought in from the controversial tax would be used to fund women’s charities.
However, some people were unhappy with this.
Can’t tell you the absolute fury I feel at the #tampontaxfunding “women’s” charities, like we’re a niche or something. FURY.
— Jo dB (@Jo_dB) November 25, 2015
— Daniel Wallace (@daniel_wallace3) November 25, 2015
Wait, women are now being expected to pay through women’s services through the tampon tax?! WTF?! #spendingreview
— Rachel Megan Barker (@rachellybee) November 25, 2015
Oh my god! Tampon tax to pay for women’s refuges? Women pay for their own support via their periods? Lost for words
— Real Britain (@realbritainros) November 25, 2015
3% higher stamp duty on buy-to-let properties
Osborne announced a 3% levy on stamp duty for second and buy-to-let homes.
The Treasury is anticipating an extra £4bn from this measure, which will come into effect in April 2016.
One problem with this policy is that it’s likely to prompt a rush to buy before it comes into effect, pushing first time buyers back in the short-term.
A second problem is that landlords will move to cheaper properties to reduce their overall bill, putting further pressure on the area of the market first time buyers operate in.
Stamp duty on buy-to-lets. What will be the threshold? Landlords may just buy cheaper properties #AutumnStatement
— Anne Ashworth (@AnneAshworth) November 25, 2015
Another problem is the fear that renters will inevitably end up footing the bill for this measure.
Extra stamp duty on BTL is presumably ace for first time buyers, but not at all for renters. Right?
— Hugo Rifkind (@hugorifkind) November 25, 2015
3% additional stamp duty on BTL sounds great, but could just lead to increased private rents to clawback revenue.
— Nicholas Smith (@nicholassmith) November 25, 2015