This week the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, delivered his annual Budget Statement to the House of Commons in the UK Parliament. This is the fifth time that Mr Osborne has done this.
The figures reveal that the British economy is now growing faster than previously predicted, and expectations for growth for both this year and the next have been revised upwards to 2.7% in 2014 and 2.3% in 2015. Building on a serious of radical reforms over recent years which have laid the foundations for the recovery, the Budget supports efforts to further reduce the national deficit, already reduced to 5.5% of GDP next year, so that it is completely eradicated by 2018-19.
Our efforts are helping develop a resilient environment in the UK where businesses are supported to invest, export, and create jobs. A record number of people are now in work, with the expectation that employment will reach 31.4 million by 2018. Over a million new jobs have been created in the last three years.
But the road ahead continues to remain challenging. And that’s why the Chancellor indicated that spending still needs to be carefully controlled – including on welfare, where the budget will be capped in future (to rise only in line with inflation). The focus will remain on getting people from welfare into work.
The Budget was also aimed at supporting savers by fundamentally changing the way that people can access their pensions, and reorganising tax incentives around individual savings accounts (ISAs). Extra support has been given to childcare, as well as a package to help people wanting to buy a new home – targeted at those wanting to buy their own home for the first time.
British businesses will benefit from improvements to export finance, and efforts to reduce energy costs so the UK remains a competitive location for companies wishing to invest in manufacturing.
Finally, this Budget also saw the introduction of a new £1 coin. Claimed to be the “most secure coin in the world” the two-coloured piece will go into general circulation in the UK from 2017, and is intended to significantly reduce counterfeiting. With twelve sides it is seen as being of particular help to the visually impaired.