Rolling coverage and analysis as chancellor Philip Hammond presents his first autumn statement at 12.30pm
Iain Duncan Smith, who resigned as work and pensions secretary earlier this year after the budget because he objected to the way George Osborne, the then chancellor, was cutting universal credit while offering tax cuts to higher earners, has been urging ministers to scrap those cuts to universal credit, which are worth £3.4bn.
On the Today programme this morning he gave a cautious welcome to the news that the Treasury will ameliorate the impact of those cuts, by reducing the taper rate. But he said he wanted the government to go further.
I consider this really a down payment – this is not game over. This is really about the fact the chancellor has said, given the circumstances and given that we don’t know where we are going to be, necessarily, as we get into Brexit stuff over the next two years, he wants to give a strong indication that they want to help those who are struggling. Here’s a starter for this, let’s see where we go over the next two to three years.
The news that Philip Hammond will announce a rise in the minimum wage to £7.50 per hour from April 2017 has received a subdued welcome.
Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, argues that workers need more help:
“We welcome any pay rise for low-paid workers, especially now in these uncertain times with speculations about food and other prices set to rise.
The reality, however, is that a fifth of UK workers aren’t paid enough to live on. There’s still a gap between the Government minimum and our real Living Wage of 8.45 in the UK and 9.75 in London, which is based on what families need to earn to meet everyday costs.”
Don’t fall for living wage hype: rate will rise 4 per cent to £7.50 — lower than the £7.64 expected earlier this year. #AutumnStatement
Hammond may insist he’s trying to help those of us who are ‘Just about Managing’.
But any new dollops of help for the Jams will be wiped away by the impact of the government’s existing austerity measures.
Before leaving No 11 this summer, George Osborne planned £13bn in benefit cuts and a further £16bn taken out of the budgets of “unprotected” Whitehall departments.
He also slashed spending for local councils. Given his ambition to balance the budget (by some as yet unspecified date), Mr Hammond is unlikely to drop any of those plans. So a working family that will earn a slightly higher minimum wage and a bit more next year on their universal credit will still have their tax credits frozen for the rest of this decade; their Sure Start centres will face the threat of closure and many of their children’s clubs and libraries could go to the wall. If Theresa May considers this helping, her version of hurting doesn’t bear thinking about.
Related: The Guardian view on Philip Hammond: he will take far more than he gives | Editorial
We’ve pulled together some key charts to get you up to speed ahead of the autumn statement:
Related: Five key charts you need to see before the autumn statement 2016
Last night, the Treasury released a series of picture of Philip Hammond perusing the autumn statement in a comfy armchair – and curiously perched by a window.
It reminded Baron Wood of Anfield, former advisor to Gordon Brown, of happier days:
Ten years ago I used to sneakily warm my bum on that radiator vent in 11 Downing Street too. http://pic.twitter.com/eGrn71YV8X
George Osborne has tweeted Hammond his support from the back benches:
Very best wishes to my friend @PHammondMP as he delivers his first Autumn Statement today & helps UK prepare for challenges ahead
Philip Hammond’s plan to clamp down on letting fees has sent shares in Britain’s property sector tumbling.
Foxtons shares plunged by 10% at the start of trading, with Countrywide (Britain’s biggest estate agent) shedding 5% and LSL Property down 6%.
Foxtons shares down as much as 11 percent in London — no more nickel-and-diming agency fees for them.
Related: Chancellor to crack down on letting fees in Autumn statement
Exactly five months after the EU referendum, we’re finally going to get the first official estimate of the impact of the Brexit vote on the UK economy. And it may be a worrying picture.
Economists are certain that Philip Hammond will tear up the forecasts announced by George Osborne in March’s budget. Growth in 2017 could be revised to just 1.4% (or lower), down from 2.2%, which would be the biggest downgrade since the eurozone crisis.
Something odd happened in Westminster yesterday. At around 1pm political journalists started getting an email from the Treasury with a press release headed “Chancellor delivers on government pledge to support ordinary working class families”.
There is nothing unusual about the government briefing out selected titbits from the autumn statement and the budget in advance. But this read like The Full Monty: a £1.4bn affordable housing announcement, a (modest) increase in the “national minimum wage”, a measure to reduce the impact of planned cuts to universal credit (but only slightly), a ban on letting agents’ fees, tighter whiplash compensation rules intended to reduce the cost of car insurance by £40 a year, and investment in research and development.
Related: Autumn statement: Hammond to crack down on letting fees
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