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“In one of the most difficult to interpret sets of public finance forecasts for many years, chancellor Jeremy Hunt appeared both to have lots of cash to splash and be tightly constrained by his fiscal rules. But he also has a good chance of being able to unveil a big pre-election giveaway by the autumn. It is not surprising that one Tory official said it was “a Budget for wonks” ahead of Hunt’s statement to parliament. The chancellor claimed he was outlining a “Budget for growth”, having stabilised the public finances through a £55bn a year fiscal consolidation in his Autumn Statement last year that drew a line under the chaos of Liz Truss’s shortlived premiership.” – FT
>Today: ToryDiary: The Budget. Hunt shields a candle from the wind.
“Jeremy Hunt faces a backlash from Tory MPs for failing to cut the tax burden, as it emerged a Treasury stealth raid would raise £120 billion over five years. The Chancellor will bring in an extra £29 billion a year by 2027 after introducing a string of low-profile revenue-raising measures – the equivalent of raising the basic rate of income tax by 4p. Mr Hunt announced a new scheme that will allow businesses to reduce their tax bills by investing, but that was dwarfed by a jump in corporation tax from 19 to 25 per cent. He has also previously frozen personal tax thresholds in the face of rising inflation, dragging hundreds of thousands of people into higher brackets.” – Daily Telegraph
“Two million of the highest earners have been handed a £1 billion-a-year pensions tax break to encourage experienced staff to keep working. The change was driven by the need to stop doctors leaving the NHS to avoid punitive tax bills but Jeremy Hunt covered all workers, saying that “no one should be pushed out of the workforce for tax reasons”. Labour attacked the measure as a tax cut for the rich, however, while experts said it would have little effect on overall employment levels among older workers. Concerns were also raised last night that the wealthy would use the measure to avoid inheritance tax.” – The Times
>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Andrew Gimson’s Budget sketch: Hunt the delivery man promises a consignment of growth
“The Labour party has vowed to reverse the chancellor’s £1bn budget pensions tax “gilded giveaway” for the wealthiest 1% if it comes into power after the next general election, as Jeremy Hunt defended his decision to scrap the lifetime pensions allowance. The shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, said Labour would seek to force a Commons vote next week on the decision, which critics argue will allow the wealthiest people to put a limitless amount into their pension pots, which can then be passed on to their heirs without paying inheritance tax. In his budget on Wednesday, Hunt said the measure would prevent consultants retiring early from the NHS because the current pension rules meant it was not worth them carrying on working.” – The Guardian
“A £6bn increase in the defence budget will not be enough to keep Britain safe, senior Tory MPs have warned. Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, revealed in Wednesday’s Spring Budget that he would be adding £2bn each year for defence for the remainder of the forecast period. The Budget document said the uplift in defence spending was “in recognition of the deteriorating security environment where the UK must be able to deter and defend against increasing threats to our security”. Wednesday’s announcement was on top of £5bn the Prime Minister pledged for defence in Monday’s Integrated Review Refresh.” – Daily Telegraph
“Jeremy Hunt has confirmed nuclear power will be classed as “environmentally sustainable” in a bid to boost investment in the energy sector. The Chancellor said today he would launch “Great British Nuclear” to bring down costs. Jeremy Hunt has confirmed nuclear power will be classed as “environmentally sustainable” in a bid to boost investment in the energy sector. The Chancellor said today he would launch “Great British Nuclear” to bring down costs… Mr Hunt said he would take both short and long term measures to reduce the costs of energy for businesses.” – Daily Express
>Today: Dan Watkins in Local Government: How we are tackling congestion and air pollution in Canterbury
“It was with considerable concern that I heard the announcement that the Government will offer 30 hours a week of free childcare for babies from nine months old so that parents (read mothers) can “get back to work”. Of course, inflation has left many families struggling to make ends meet. And with a lockdown debt hangover, it has never been more important to pursue economic growth. But I fear the Treasury has misunderstood the “problem” and therefore – inevitably – come up with the wrong “solution”. First, it is wrong to assume that the cost of childcare is the primary factor preventing women from returning to work.” – Daily Telegraph
>Today: John Glen MP in Comment: We’ve stabilised the economy after last autumn’s events. This Budget moves on – and charts a route to a better future.
“Britain is prepared to consider leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) if Strasbourg judges block the Government’s plans to crack down on illegal migration, Dominic Raab has warned. The Justice Secretary said the Government was committed to staying within the ECHR and would “strive every sinew” to remain within it but could not “rule out forever and a day the possibility that we might need to revisit our membership.” He told the House of Lords Justice Committee that this would, however, depend on the “responsiveness” of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg to Britain’s new legislation effectively barring migrants who arrive illegally from claiming asylum in the UK.” – Daily Telegraph
>Yesterday: Sarah Gall in International: Operation Sovereign Borders – how Australia proved that strict immigration policy can work