Britain swings austerity axe but drops tax reform

Sharing is Caring

Britain took the axe to spending Wednesday, fleshing out plans to slash welfare and eliminate the deficit, but dropped a controversial plan to cut tax credits for the poorest.

Britain swings austerity axe but drops tax reform

Britain swings austerity axe but drops tax reform

/ London (UK) – 25 November 2015 13:57

Britain took the axe to spending Wednesday, fleshing out plans to slash welfare and eliminate the deficit, but dropped a controversial plan to cut tax credits for the poorest.

Finance minister George Osborne spelled out his proposals for £12 billion (17 billion euros, $18 billion) of cuts to welfare spending and £20 billion of reductions to public expenditure, while raising £5.0 billion via a crackdown on tax avoidance.

But in a budget update to parliament, Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne performed a major U-turn to reverse his plans to axe tax credits, which are a state benefit for those on low incomes, following widespread accusations the changes would be harmful.

“I’ve listened to the concerns. I hear and understand them,” he told lawmakers to loud cheers.

“And because I’ve been able to announce today an improvement in the public finances, the simplest thing to do is not to phase these changes in, but to avoid them altogether.”

In recent months, Osborne had faced stiff opposition from even within his own Conservative Party over cuts to welfare and other social spending that some see as too swingeing.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative government suffered a humiliating defeat last month when Britain’s upper chamber of parliament the House of Lords rejected plans to cut tax credits.

The opposition Labour Party has also fiercely opposed the tax credit changes under the leadership of new head Jeremy Corbyn.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Osborne vowed to eliminate Britain’s deficit, moving “out of the red and into the black” with a higher-than-expected surplus of £10.1 billion in 2019/2020 — the end of the current parliament.

“Our job is to rebuild Britain … so that Britain becomes the most prosperous and secure of all the nations in the world,” added Osborne, who is widely seen as a potential successor to Cameron.

“We are committed to running a surplus. We are ready for whatever storms lie ahead,” he said.

He stressed that welfare savings totalling £12 billion would be “delivered in full” under the plan.

– Building homes –

Osborne sweetened the spending review by announcing an affordable house building programme, amid complaints that demand for Britain’s meagre housing stock has priced many properties out the reach of all but the wealthiest.

“I am doubling the housing budget to £2.0 billion a year,” he said.

The government would build 400,000 affordable homes in the “biggest house building by any government since 1970s”, Osborne added.

Some of the land for news homes would come from the closure of old prisons, such as Holloway women’s prison in north London.

Turning to security, he vowed there would be no cutbacks for the police amid heightened security and increased terror threats following the recent Paris attacks.

“Now is not the time for further police cuts. Now is the time to back our police and give them the tools.

“I am today announcing that there will be no cuts in the police budget at all.”

Police numbers have fallen sharply in recent years as part of the austerity drive, leading to fears London would struggle to cope with the kind of attacks that struck France.

The government meanwhile held Britain’s official economic growth forecast at 2.4 percent for 2015.

It was however revised up to 2.4 percent in 2016 from 2.3 percent.

And debt was predicted to be 82.5 percent of national income this year, down from 83.6 percent at the time of Osborne’s annual budget in July.

Turning to the public purse, Osborne lowered his borrowing forecasts to £73.5 billion this year and to £49.9 billion next.

END

Tags : Reform, Drops, Austerity, Swings, britain

Related Videos :

You may also like...

Leave a Reply