In what was expected to be an Autumn Statement filled with cuts and bad news, the measures set out today were much less than expected and there were some surprising and very positive announcements from the Chancellor. Higher tax receipts have given George Osborne room for manoeuvre in relation to spending, while also reducing the deficit ahead of target. In particular, he was able to perform a U-turn on the proposed changes to tax credits.
As expected, a country which lives within its means, supports its hard working people and improves living standards for all were certainly at the top of the agenda.
The North East
The Northern Powerhouse got a lot of air time, with clarity on the £400m fund which is set to aid regional development and help smaller businesses to grow. When taken together with separate funds across the North East, £500m will be available across the Northern Powerhouse.
Other measures designed to boost the North include:
- £50m for transport in the North and £150m to make oyster style ticketing a reality across the whole of the North
- £22m for Northern Powerhouse trade missions and new investment taskforce
- £7m of funding through the regional air connectivity fund to support new air routes, promoting domestic and international connectivity. This will include new routes from Newcastle to Norwich.
- New enterprise zones to attract private sector investment, 7 new zones will be created within the Northern Powerhouse region
- Power over uniform business rates control to be devolved to local councils, “to help tackle geographical imbalances and give power to elected mayors to benefit local economies”