Chancellor uses Budget to signal "end" of austerity01 November 2018 - by Matthew Coyle
This week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, delivered his Autumn Budget with a significant degree of optimism.
Hammond's core message was that the era of austerity is "finally coming to an end," adding that the UK now has "an economy working not for the few, not even for the many, but for everyone." He also expressed confidence that Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU would conclude with a deal.
The Northern Ireland Executive has been awarded £320 million, with Belfast collecting £350 million as part of a Belfast City Region Deal. The Chancellor also confirmed that talks are to begin with Derry/Londonderry and Strabane on a similar deal.
Hammond also announced that £2 million would be made available for that area of Belfast city centre affected by the Bank Buildings fire.
In addition, £300 million in funding has been allocated to progress shared education schemes in Northern Ireland.
A new plastic tax will be introduced on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging which contains less than 30 per cent of renewable plastic.
The duty on tobacco will continue to rise in line with inflation, plus two per cent. Taxes on cider, beer and spirits will be frozen for the next year.
Elsewhere, the Chancellor emphasised that "universal credit is here to stay"; a package of measures worth £1 billion over five years is to be implemented.
Forecasts contained in the Budget were based on an 'average-type free trade deal' being agreed between the UK and EU. In the event of a no-deal scenario, the government will set a new Budget.