Changes announced in budget will not be introduced until as late as April, leaving some families facing a tough Christmas
Opposition parties and charities have criticised budget measures to improve the rollout of universal credit after it emerged that the changes will not be introduced until as late as April.
In his budget speech, Philip Hammond announced a ?1.5bn fund to assist people moving to UC, promising a reduction of the six-week initial wait to five, easier access to initial loans and a two-week bridging system for housing benefit.
The dominant school of economics has long marketed itself as value-free. But the chancellor should be honest about the ideological nature of his decisions
You’d think that a leading figure giving their most important speech of the year on what exactly they’re planning on doing with the nation’s money would try to avoid inductive leaps, questionable stats, and a stubborn inability to be open about the fact that their actions are a choice, not a necessity.
But when it’s the budget, and your job title is chancellor of the exchequer, it seems like anything goes. It’s not Philip Hammond’s fault (though given he uses “ too many technical words” by his own admission, he’s probably not helping); I’m not sure there’s ever been a time where the budget felt like an honest, open, high-quality discussion on how our collective tax money is going to be spent. Isn’t that a little strange?
The mayor of London will draw up a new charter regulating the management of privately owned public spaces, following a Guardian Cities investigation which uncovered growing corporate control over parks and squares in the capital.
The announcement comes as Sadiq Khan prepares to publish the first draft of his London Plan – the document that sets out the mayor’s strategic vision for London, and shapes development and planning policies across all of the city’s local authorities.
The Labour leader finally grasps what leaving the EU really means: the greatest harm inflicted on the very people his party cares about the most
At last, Labour steps up. Brexit is the great national crisis of our times and yet the leaders of the opposition have sometimes seemed so muted it has driven remainers to tear their hair out in frustration.
That changed yesterday at prime minister’s questions. Jeremy Corbyn for the first time turned all guns on the prime minister over her incoherent, incomprehensible and impossible Brexit stance. He used all his questions, every one, to wallop her exactly where she and her party are most vulnerable – and not before time.
Leaked paper says David Davis’s failure to mention Brexit confused French, and Czechs thought Boris Johnson ‘unimpressive’
The near contempt felt by European leaders at the British government’s management of the Brexit negotiations, and their concerns over the “unimpressive” and “surprising” behaviour of Boris Johnson and David Davis, have been revealed by a confidential report drawn up by the Irish government.
The leaked document, from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, is based on recent meetings with counterparts in European capitals and paints a damning picture of the diplomatic efforts of senior British politicians.
Those expecting a new Britain should look back two decades at the reality of Tony Blair’s seemingly transformative agenda
Twenty years after New Labour’s triumphant electoral victory, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are still squabbling. But far more important than the competing accounts of when the former agreed to make way for the latter is understanding why the promise of New Labour turned out to be false.
Chancellor says criticism that his flagship policy will merely raise house prices overlooks his plan to build more homes
Philip Hammond has defended his flagship housing policy against criticism it will raise house prices and said that abolishing stamp duty for first-time buyers would create an incentive to save a deposit.
The chancellor said the policy, which abolished the stamp duty on homes under ?300,000 for first-time buyers, would help a million people get on the housing ladder.
Shadow chancellor refuses to be pinned down on specific cost of servicing debt from party’s spending plans, accusing BBC presenter of ‘trite journalism’
The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has refused to put a figure on the cost of Labour’s plans for extra borrowing and dismissed being challenged on specific numbers as “trite journalism”.
Asked nine times by BBC Radio 4’s Today presenter Mishal Husain how much extra it would cost to service public debt under Labour, McDonnell refused to give a figure. Instead he repeatedly claimed that extra borrowing would “pay for itself”.
Speaking as he announced plans aimed at improving transport links and devolving more power to the regions, Philip Hammond said “far too much of our economic strength is concentrated in our capital city”.
The German leader’s departure could bring crisis to the EU. Britain could have helped if it hadn’t jumped ship
Suddenly Brexit matters, a lot. Until recently I had regarded it as one of those crises that we muddle through somehow, like the bank collapse or the winter of discontent. Time is the great compromiser. Project fear would turn out to be project not-quite-as-bad-as-we-thought.
Rise in personal tax allowance benefits higher ratepayers by ?340 a year with basic rate band ?70 better off and universal credit recipients better by just 50p per week
Higher rate taxpayers will be ?340 a year better off after budget changes to income tax, but lower earners will gain just ?70 and those on universal credit just 50p a week, as the chancellor rejected accusations that the well-off do not pay enough tax.
The personal allowance – that part of your pay not liable for income tax – will go up to ?11,850 from April next year, a ?350 increase from the current level. The rise will help Philip Hammond meet the Conservative election pledge to raise the allowance to ?12,500 by 2020. In practice, it turns into a ?70 saving for a basic rate taxpayer, as it means that ?350 more of their income is not liable to 20% income tax.
Forecaster now expects economy to grow by just 1.5% in 2017, rather than 2% originally suggested in March
Britain’s growth prospects are far weaker than previously thought, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, as stalling productivity and cash-strapped consumers provide a bleak backdrop for the economy.
The government’s independent economic forecaster sharply downgraded its growth predictions and now expects the economy to grow by just 1.5% this year, after predicting 2% growth back in March at the time of the last budget.
An optimistic, gaffe-free chancellor offered enough to keep his key to No 11 – at least for now
Just days ago, Philip Hammond was battling for his political life amid television gaffes and pressure from Brexit-supporting MPs who considered him – and the Treasury – way too gloomy about Britain’s prospects after leaving the EU.
A headline funding boost of ?2bn for Scotland in Hammond’s budget on Wednesday was criticised by the Scottish government, which said it included ?1.1bn in loans that could not be spent on services like health. The total package announced by the chancellor also carried an extra ?509m for conventional infrastructure spending such as building roads, schools and hospitals.
Philip Hammond has admitted that seven years of obsessing about the public sector deficit and shrinking the state has left the economy enfeebled and smaller than before the crisis. But he continues to put ideology above evidence
The last seven years has been an experiment in politics; testing a hypothesis about whether you could cut your way to growth. Philip Hammond’s budget suggests that you cannot. The government’s argument has been that only a programme of rigid deficit reduction and public spending cuts would heal a sick, bloated economy. The damaging consequences of that strategy were laid bare by the Treasury today. Rolling back key public services and declining to invest for the future has meant the economy is smaller than it was forecast to be. Even worse, it has become enfeebled, unable to grow as fast as it historically has done. The result is a poorer, more indebted British state less able to act in the name of economic justice: the higher pay pledged to low-paid workers by the government under the national living wage scheme won’t now materialise when ministers had promised. The UK has experienced almost a lost decade of stagnating wages and shrivelling the state. It is true that Mr Hammond can say that the economy is now recuperating. But the nation has not recovered its pre-crisis vigour. Nor can the chancellor say when, or if, it ever will.
This budget represents a missed opportunity for Mr Hammond to reset the narrative and build up much-needed political capital with his own side by signalling a new direction about where the government is going. What he did in an hour-long speech was to please neither the state-shrinkers on the Conservative backbenches nor those critics who suggest he should fire up growth with the big bazooka of public spending. Instead the chancellor produced a pea shooter: announcing the only post-election giveaway budget since the millennium by borrowing an extra ?14bn over the next five years. More cash for an industrial strategy, infrastructure investment and hi-tech research should be welcomed. As should Mr Hammond’s attempts to tax internet giants, which contrasts with his silence over the recent revelations of offshore tax avoidance.
The chancellor had a choice, an economic stimulus or reprising George Osborne’s austerity. He chose very badly
Philip Hammond is going nowhere – or so he wants you to think. For months, the chancellor has faced a guerrilla campaign from his cabinet colleagues and backbenchers for his sacking and replacement by someone more Brexity, someone more spendy; someone more, well, happy. Wednesday’s budget was his response to all the back-biting and poison briefings. Hence the opening optimism about a Britain “fit for the future”. Hence the jibes at plotter-in-chief Michael Gove and his “economicky” terms. Hence the attempt to craft a budget that told a coherent story about a country with less money but lots of pluck, and a government unveiling the biggest housebuilding programme in a generation. Headline-grabbing policies, personal pugnacity and a tank full of mediocre jokes – these are the classic signs of a chancellor trying his best to reverse out of a dead end.
A payment of ?1.6bn for the NHS in England in 2018-19 will see its budget rise to ?126bn, rather than the ?124.4bn originally planned. Similarly, it will receive ?900m more than planned in 2019-20 to help it withstand the pressures of coping with the increasing demand for care. However, both are one-off payments, not permanent additions to the NHS’s baseline budget.
In the communities that straddle the divide between Northern Ireland and the Republic, anxieties about a hard border are becoming very real. Many business owners fear for their livelihoods, while local people warn of a return to the days when IRA smugglers ruled ‘bandit country’
Mervyn Johnston sips his tea while sizing up the pristine-looking 1957 Mini Cooper that has come in for repairs from across the border. As the UK’s historic decision to quit the EU plays out, it doesn’t take much for the softly spoken 78-year-old and five-times rally-driving champion to cast his mind back to the days when customs posts and army checkpoints brought life in the picturesque village of Pettigo to a halt.
“We had about half a dozen incendiary bombs before the big one,” he says, tilting his chin to the other classic-cars garage across the road, now run by his son. “That blew the garage right into the river.”
It didn’t matter if he did or didn’t spend the money he didn’t have, the fall-guy chancellor was screwed either way
Freewheelin’ Phil had always enjoyed his morning ritual. After straightening his tie and smoothing down his hair, he’d head to the mirror to blow kisses to himself and whisper: “Looking good, Big Boy.” Only on this day of all days his reflection hadn’t bothered to show up. Freewheelin’ Phil had never felt more alone.
It wasn’t meant to be this way. For a while after the election there had been a sense of release. He’d expected to be out of a job but the prime minister’s failure had given him a reprieve. But now, as he prepared to deliver his budget, the walls were closing in again. The Brexiters were willing him to fail and the remainers no longer much cared whether he stayed or went. The Tories were in meltdown and he was the designated fall guy. It wouldn’t matter if he did or didn’t spend the money he didn’t have. He was screwed either way.
In the spring, around the time Philip Hammond was preparing his first budget, some of those close to him suggested that the March budget was never intended to be that special because he was saving his big, structural changes for the autumn. Since then, the world has moved on somewhat and he came to the Commons today having made little impact with pre-budget announcements and with the expectation bar at what seemed like a Treasury all-time low. It felt as if he would be doing well not mess up.
And actually, by those criteria, he has succeeded. The budget was well received by his colleagues and, so far, nothing has fully unravelled. True, the Office for Budget Responsibility has exposed his main headline-grabbing measure, the abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers for homes worth up to ?300,000, as a ?600m gimmick that will just push up prices. But, even though it would be nice to live in a world where bad policy always amounts to bad politics, sadly we don’t, and it is hard to see Hammond suffering any penalty for his home owner subsidy (apart from when he realises he has not got ?600m to spend on something else). The Tory tribe (MPs and newspapers) will never complain about a tax cut, and it is not a measure that will be voted down in the Commons. (For example, we can’t even be sure Labour will vote against it.)
The reaction to today’s budget in the financial markets is quite muted.
Although building firms have been hit by the threatened clampdown on land banks, the FTSE 100 actually ended the day up 0.1%. The pound also shrugged off the growth downgrades, it’s up half a cent against the US dollar and flat against the euro.
One lesson from this Budget. Were George Osborne still Chancellor, or PM, he'd almost certainly have had to abandon his surplus rule by now. Those OBR productivity cuts make it essentially impossible
Hammond may have used a little sleight of hand (the reclassification of housing associations being an obvious example) to give himself a little headroom at this juncture.
In practice, however, he appears to have kept the vast majority of his powder dry, cognisant that there may well be a time, as Brexit approaches, when more radical action is merited.
. @vincecable scathing about "desperate" Treasury plans to start selling its ?24bn stake in RBS by March 2019, says would not deliver value for taxpayer. VC: " @George_Osborne accepted it was utterly wrong to start selling shares before you can recoup basic taxpayer outlay."
Commons vote against transferring EU protocol on animal sentience into UK law was widely misconstrued, insist MPs
MPs have been forced to deny that a Commons vote last week means animals are not recognised in the UK as sentient life forms.
An amendment to the European Union (withdrawal bill to transfer the EU protocol on animal sentience into UK law was defeated by 313 votes to 295 on 15 November, and since then a row has developed as to what the vote meant in practice.
Labour leader presses PM on issues such as Irish border and immigration rules; May says Labour has no clue on Brexit
Jeremy Corbyn has used prime minister’s questions to challenge Theresa May over what he called the government’s lack of a coherent Brexit strategy.
The Labour leader used each of his questions in a pre-budget PMQs to focus on Brexit, a subject he has largely avoided in recent months, seemingly because Labour’s position on the subject also remains some way from coherent and unified.
Scottish MSP admits sums involved are not ‘in any sense small’ as she defends her decision to appear in reality TV show
The former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has promised to donate part of her fee from appearing in I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here to a homeless charity as she defended her decision to appear in the show.
Dugdale rejected complaints from her Labour colleagues at Holyrood that taking part in the ITV reality show was akin to taking a second job, but admitted she would be well paid for it.
Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, including David Davis’s speech at a Brexit conference, Boris Johnson taking questions in the Commons and the EU withdrawal bill debate
We’re wrapping up the politics live blog for today.
To sum up: ministers have sought to see off a potential rebellion by Conservative MPs that could have brought a first defeat over the EU withdrawal bill by partially backing down on the future status of EU human rights measures in UK law.
A separate Labour amendment, number 336, to retain the existing principles of EU law within domestic law on or after exit day has been defeated by 315 votes to 296 - a majority of 19.
Tories agree to work with rebel MP Dominic Grieve over keeping rights under EU law after Brexit
Ministers have sought to see off a potential rebellion by Conservative MPs that could have brought a first defeat over the EU withdrawal bill by partially backing down on the future status of EU human rights measures in UK law.
Following another day of debate about the bill, which seeks to transpose EU statute into UK law post-Brexit, the government faced possible defeat over amendments intended to maintain the scope of the EU charter on fundamental rights.
Ireland fired a warning shot on Tuesday by suggesting May’s enhanced financial offer to the EU was not enough on its own to secure the trade talks sought by the UK without guarantees that Brexit will not lead to a hard border.
Alex Orr, Elaine Bagshaw, Peter Lyth and others look at Britian’s future after Brexit
In recent days the UK’s standing in the world has further diminished as the impacts of Brexit become more tangible. Earlier this week the relocation of two EU agencies currently based in London was announced. The European Medicines Agency will move to Amsterdam, while the European Banking Authority will be lost to Paris, which narrowly pipped Dublin to host this prestigious organisation ( London loses EU agencies to Paris and Amsterdam in Brexit relocation, 21 November). Between them, the two agencies employ 1,150 people, as well as attracting thousands of visiting researchers and staff members to London. This is despite Brexit secretary David Davis previously voicing his hope that the agencies could remain in London, or at least form part of the negotiations. To add insult to injury, the UK will have to pay for the relocation.
In addition, the UK has withdrawn its candidate from election to the UN international court of justice ( Report, 21 November). Britain will not have a judge on the UN’s most powerful court for the first time in its 71-year history. Last week, after five rounds of voting by the security council and the general assembly in New York, four judges from Brazil, Lebanon, France and Somalia were chosen for the bench ahead of the UK’s candidate, Christopher Greenwood. The UK’s failure to guarantee a place on the court of an organisation it helped to found is clearly a further sign of its increasing irrelevance on the world stage following the decision to leave the EU. As the UK turns inwards following the Brexit vote, it is hardly a surprise that it is no longer able to command the global influence it once did. Alex Orr Edinburgh
MPs left scratching their heads after facing big-hitters from the Home Office, the UK Border Force, HMRC and Defra
It started badly and got steadily worse. Labour MP Meg Hillier opened the public accounts committee session on the state of UK borders after Brexit by asking Patsy Wilkinson, the second most senior civil servant at the Home Office, how many different digital services programme directors for the UK Border Force there had been recently.
Embattled chancellor will sweep away regulation to allow testing of cars and put up ?1bn for tech
Driverless cars will be on Britain’s roads by 2021 as a result of sweeping regulatory reforms that will put the UK in the forefront of a post-Brexit technological revolution, Chancellor Philip Hammond will say this week. In his budget on Wednesday Hammond will allow driverless cars to be tested without any human operator inside or outside the car, and without the legal constraints and rules that apply in many other EU nations, and much of the US.
The move – welcomed by the UK motor industry – is part of an attempt by Hammond and the Treasury to project a more upbeat message about the prospects for the UK economy after Brexit, and focus on opportunities as well as the risks. Carmakers have warned that they may have to move at least some production abroad if there is no deal to keep Britain inside the EU single market and customs union, at least for a two-year transition period.
Anushka Asthana is joined by Nick Boles MP, Dawn Foster and Ian Mulheirn to discuss the UK’s housing crisis and the return to the Commons of the EU withdrawal bill. Plus Labour MP Tulip Siddiq on her constituent Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who is in prison in Iran
Last month, the prime minister vowed to fix Britain’s broken housing market. So with homelessness on the rise, private rents soaring and young people frozen out of the mortgage market, what would a solution look like?
Joining Anushka Asthana this week are Shelter’s Steve Akehurst, Conservative MP Nick Boles, commentator Dawn Foster and Ian Mulheirn of Oxford Economics.
Labour leader reveals position as he criticises government’s ‘shocking’ lack of progress in Brexit discussions
Jeremy Corbyn has said he would vote to remain in the EU in the event of another referendum, as he criticised the government for its “shocking” lack of progress in the Brexit talks.
The Labour leader revealed his position during a visit to Shipley in West Yorkshire, just days after Theresa May said she could not answer the question because she would have to weigh up the evidence again.
The capital should have its own migration system to help it to help Britain survive leaving the EU
There are always exceptions. Since the nation voted to leave the European Union, the mayor of its capital city, Sadiq Khan, has declared that “ London Is Open”, but he wouldn’t mind it being closed to Donald Trump. Hundreds of thousands of Londoners sympathise, judging by the map of signatories of the petition to stop the US president paying a state visit and making life difficult for the Queen.
This isn’t typical behaviour. In general, the capital welcomes foreigners, including those who, unlike Trump, plan to stick around and do something useful. About two million of the city’s work force of five million were born overseas, of which at least half come from elsewhere in the EU. London-haters find this frightening, a foretaste of foreignness eating the green and pleasant land. They hope Brexit will stem the alien tide, buttressing a fading Britannia of yore. They may not have yet grasped how damaging for them a cut in incomers from overseas could be.
Anti-apartheid hero attacks former prime minister over 'double standards on war crimes'
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for Tony Blair and George Bush to be hauled before the international criminal court in The Hague and delivered a damning critique of the physical and moral devastation caused by the Iraq war.
Tutu, a Nobel peace prize winner and hero of the anti-apartheid movement, accuses the former British and US leaders of lying about weapons of mass destruction and says the invasion left the world more destabilised and divided "than any other conflict in history".
The tribunal is effectively the legal arm of Nato in the Balkans
The man long-reviled as the Butcher of Belgrade - or even a quasi-Nazi dictator, despite his regular election victories - has already been convicted in the court of western public opinion, not only for the war crimes charges he now faces, but for a decade of slaughter in the Balkans.
Shamelessly bought with $1.3bn of aid for a country ravaged by sanctions and Nato bombing, Milosevic's extradition had to be forced through by decree, in defiance of Yugoslavia's constitutional court, by a government which knew it stood no chance of getting the decision through parliament.