Chancellor George Osborne has given the first formal look at the Conservative government’s spending plans in the Houses of Parliament. Here’s how NCE saw it unfold.
12:35pm: “This will be a Budget for working people,” says Osborne before insisting the government’s long-term economic plan is working. So far, so election manifesto.
12.37pm: “We will be bold in building the Northern Powerhouse.”
So what might we expect from today’s Budget? Engineering chiefs have called for the government to reaffirm its commitment to infrastructure spending. Namechecks and some hard cash for HS2, HS3 and Crossrail 2 would be welcomed by the industry.
12:40pm: “The Budget deficit is half the level we inherited. We should cut the defecit at the same pace as we did in the last Parliament.”
12:43pm: A Budget surplus is predicted by Osborne for 2019/20. “Britain finally doing the responsible thing.”
12:45pm: “We should always fix the roof while the sun is shining” and a million pencils break as they cross off the phrase on buzzword bingo.
12:50pm: The chancellor is talking about tax fraud and, more specifically, about attempts to tackle it. I’m fighting the urge to check the Ashes score.
12.52pm: Some changes to the rules governing non-doms. Permanent non-dom tax status is being abolished. Is Root still in?
12:53pm: Large firms’ corporation taxes will be paid closer to the time profits are made.
12:56pm: A specific memorial will be built to those killed in the terrorist attacks in Tunisia recently. A separate memorial will be created for all Brits killed by terrorists abroad.
12:58pm: He’s talking about transport now. “Four-fifths of all journeys in the UK are made by road yet we rank behind Namibia on the quality of our network.”
1pm: From 2017, new cars will have new duty bands. From the end of this decade, roads excise revenue will be ring fenced for spending on the roads network. I can hear the champagne corks popping and the sound of people falling off chairs as this is one that has been repeatedly argued for since the Roman times - or at least as far back as a quick search on the NCE website will confirm. A postman in east London is celebrating too - the NCE letters bag will be half empty after this.
1.02pm: While you recover your breath, Osborne has also announced there will be an apprentice tax on big firms.
1.06pm: Manchester’s mayor will get new powers, and devolution deals are being worked on with other cities including Liverpool and Sheffield. Devolution is powering ahead, Osborne says. I’m summarising. It’s less painful for you that way.
1.11pm: Inheritance tax is being discussed. I missed a bit but it’ll all be in the Evening Standard with one of those calculators.
1.12pm: Other regional newspapers are available and I’m sure they have the same coverage.
1.16pm: Corporation tax will be cut to 18% in 2020.
1.20pm: “The best route out of poverty is work.” 18-21-year-olds will have no automatic right to housing benefits.
1.22pm: Free childcare of 30 hours for working parents of three and four year olds. I like this policy a lot and would have liked it even more if my daughter wasn’t nearly five. Alanis Morissette would have something to say about this scenario I’m sure.
1:24pm: Stick with me. There was a huge transport policy headline at 1pm, and more could follow at any time.
1.34pm: Or not.
1.36pm: Compulsory national living wage for people aged 25 and over - which will reach £9 by 2020. The Tory MPs absolutely love this and have to be quietened by the speaker. They are cock-a-hoop with this.
1.40pm: “It was the Conseratives who first protected working people in the mills… of course it is the Conservatives who are introducing the national living wage.” Absolute meltdown on both sides of the House.
And it’s all over in time for you to switch back to the live cricket feed you were previously eschewing work for. Come on England.
No mention of the major rail schemes hoped for then - or of the Heathrow expansion. But hold on to your hats as roads excise revenue will finally be ring fenced for spending on the roads network (see 1pm).