What will be in the UK Budget? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt set to deliver ‘back-to-work’ Budget and promise push for growth

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is set to vow he will get people back to work and tackle labour shortages in today’s long-awaited Spring Budget.

Delivering his first Budget on Wednesday, Mr Hunt will make announcements on energy bill support, benefits reform and pensions allowances as he tries to restore the UK Government’s economic credibility following former prime minister Liz Truss’s disastrous mini-budget.

Despite calls from Conservative backbenchers to go further on tax cuts, Mr Hunt is expected to reference the “difficult decisions” following Ms Truss’s tenure, and stress the need to stabilise the markets.

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MPs told The Scotsman there was also no expectation of any surprise spending following the lower-than-expected borrowing figures and recent drop in wholesale energy prices.

The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will deliver the Budget on Wednesday with a focus on getting people back to work, and cutting inflation.The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will deliver the Budget on Wednesday with a focus on getting people back to work, and cutting inflation.
The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will deliver the Budget on Wednesday with a focus on getting people back to work, and cutting inflation.

Mr Hunt is expected to say: “Today, we deliver the next part of our plan – a Budget for growth. Not just growth from emerging out of a downturn, but long-term, sustainable, healthy growth that pays for our NHS and schools, finds good jobs for young people, provides a safety net for older people … all whilst making our country one of the most prosperous in the world.”

Sluggish UK growth has dominated political and economic debate in recent months, while the challenge of inflation and widespread industrial disputes over public sector pay have not gone away.

But Mr Hunt will promise a growth plan that will remove “the obstacles that stop businesses investing” while also “tackling the labour shortages that stop them recruiting” and “breaking down the barriers that stop people working”.

At the centre of that plan will be a range of measures designed to encourage the over-50s, the long-term sick and disabled, and benefits claimants back into the workplace. The Chancellor is specifically set to announce the axing of the system used to assess eligibility for sickness benefits, paying parents on universal credit childcare support upfront and increasing the amount they can claim by several hundred pounds.

Changes to pensions are also expected to be announced, with Mr Hunt likely to allow workers to put more money into their pension pot before being taxed by lifting the lifetime pension allowance.

Many households will also be eagerly awaiting any decision on Government support for energy bills. Mr Hunt is widely expected to cancel the planned £500 hike in average energy bills, which was due to come into force next month, in a move that would see bills for the average household staying at around £2,500, instead of going up to £3,000.

However, he will ignore calls to drop it further, despite clamour from charities and the SNP. Action is also expected on prepayment meters, with the Chancellor set to use the Budget to scrap so-called “prepayment premium” from July.

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Mr Hunt will echo some of the language of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, with a promise of “harnessing British ingenuity to make us a science and tech superpower” as he sets out a road-map for the country’s economic future.

For Scotland, up to £8.6 million of funding for Edinburgh’s festivals is poised to be announced, some of which may go towards creating a permanent headquarters for the Fringe Society, which runs a festival that draws thousands of performers to Scotland’s capital each summer.

Scotland’s festival economy contributes more than £300m a year to the UK, and the Chancellor is expected to outline his ambition to protect the festival economy and create jobs in Scotland.

Labour has said Mr Hunt’s Budget speech is an opportunity for the Government to show some “real ambition” after years of “managed decline”. Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “This Budget is an opportunity for the Government to get us off their path of managed decline.

“It’s a chance for them to recognise the huge promise and potential of Britain and get us growing again.”

Ms Reeves, who will deliver Labour’s response to the Budget in the Commons on Wednesday, said: “With 13 years of economic mismanagement and sticking plaster politics leaving us lagging behind, what we need to see on Wednesday is some real ambition from the Government.

“Labour’s focus would be on our mission to secure the highest growth in the G7. Our plan will help us lead the pack again, by creating good jobs and productivity growth across every part of our country, so everyone, not just a few, feel better off.”The SNP meanwhile claimed they were the “only party” with a plan to “oppose Tory cuts, boost incomes and deliver economic growth".

SNP economy spokesperson Stewart Hosie accused Labour of being “indistinguishable from the Tories" and repeated calls for the Chancellor to cut the energy price guarantee to £2,000, raise public sector pay, introduce a real living wage, invest in green growth, and re-join the European single market.

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He said: "The number one test for the UK Budget will be whether the Chancellor puts money back into people's pockets – or continues to rip families off by imposing sky-high energy bills and real-terms cuts to public sector pay and benefits.

"Scotland is a wealthy, energy-rich country and families are sick of being fleeced by Westminster. Instead of hammering household incomes, the Chancellor must save families £1,400 by slashing energy bills and deliver a comprehensive package of support.

"The SNP's five point plan would reduce bills, raise incomes and boost economic growth, at a time when many families are struggling to get by. With energy companies making record profits and the wholesale price of gas falling, there is no excuse for failing to act.

"This UK Budget is all about choices. Instead of making ordinary families pay for Westminster failure, the Tories must fund support by scrapping non-dom tax status, expanding the windfall tax and taxing share buy backs, which would raise billions.

"And if we are serious about delivering economic growth and reversing decline, the UK government must re-join the European single market and properly invest in green energy.”



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