By Abbie Dodson
With October comes many things; the autumnal descent into winter, shops selling Christmas Decorations prematurely, and the Autumn Budget, which isn’t quite as complex and ominous as it may sound.
The Autumn Budget is the annual economic statement made by the government, and was published on Monday 29th October. The Autumn Budget details government’s spending and taxation plans, which are ‘forecasted’ by the Office for Budget Responsibility. The statement focuses on estimates for Britain’s economic growth over the next year.
Phillip Hammond has served as Chancellor of the Exchequer since 2016, and has promised that October’s Budget will “put an end to austerity.”Whilst the budget details nothing which specifically affects university students, there are many changes which affect aspects of student life.
Alcohol, Tobacco and Fuel
Many students enjoy alcohol, for example, and whilst duty on beer, cider, and spirits will be frozen, there’s bad news for wine drinkers, as the price of wine is set to inflate by 8p from February. Prices of cigarettes and tobacco products are also rising, with a packet of 20 cigarettes due to rise 33p. On a more positive note, for the students who drive, fuel duty will remain frozen for the ninth consecutive year. There is also a confirmed £30 billion dedicated to fixing Britain’s potholes and repairing motorways.
Pay and Benefits
Once you graduate and start paying tax, you get a 'tax-free allowance' which is the amount of your wage that you don't pay tax on. The Budget announced that there would be an increase in this tax-free allowance to £12,500 as of April 2019.
The National Living Wage and National Minimal Wage are also increasing, the new hourly rates can be found below:
. For Employees aged 25+, rates are increasing from £7.83 to £8.21
. For 21-24 year olds, rates are increasing from £7.38 to £7.70
. For 18-20 year olds rates are increasing from £5.90 to £6.15
. For 16-17 year olds, rates are increasing from £4.20 to £4.35
. Apprentice wages are also changing from £3.70 to £3.90.
With wage growth at its highest in ten years, Hammond has also provided £630 to benefit working families with children, and insists that the new ‘controversial’ welfare and benefits system is “here to stay". This disputed system provides an extra billion pounds to help welfare claimants transfer to a new, stronger benefit.
Regarding Brexit, the Autumn Budget has set aside an extra £500 million to prepare for leaving the European Union. There will also be a commemorative 50p coin to mark the event.
An extra £160 million has been set aside for counter-terrorism policing, alongside an extra £1 billion for armed forces and improving cyber-capabilities. There is also consideration for better mental health care for veterans to mark the centenary anniversary of the end of World War One.
The NHS has been granted an extra £20.5 billion over the next five years, with a minimum of £2 billion a year being provided to mental health services. These services include a new mental health crisis centre which offers support in every accident and emergency nationally.
There will also be a new 24-hour mental health hotline, along with an increase in the amount of mental health ambulances.
An extra £700 million has been provided to councils to better care for those with disabilities and the elderly.
A single “bonus” of £400 million has been set up to help schools buy the ‘little extras they need” in the coming year. There has also been funding granted for 10 University Enterprise Zones.
A new tax has been announced for plastic packaging which does not contain 30% recyclabale material however there will not be a tax on takeaway coffee cups or the so-called 'Latte levy' but the government has stated this would be reconsidered if the industry does not progress enough. A further £60m has been set aside for planting trees in England and £10 to deal with abandoned waste sites.For full details of the Budget 2018, head to the government's website here https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/budget-2018