Budget speech – live: Sunak plans last-minute move to soften benefit cuts as he pledges recovery ‘optimism'

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Budget speech – live: Sunak plans last-minute move to soften benefit cuts as he pledges recovery ‘optimism’
© HM Treasury / BEEM PRI206960150.jpg

Rishi Sunak is reportedly planning to soften the blow of his cuts to Universal Credit by announcing changes to the benefits system in today’s Budget.

The chancellor is expected to change the so-called “taper rate” for claimants in work – a move which would let them keep more of their wages.

But the £20 a week cut is still expected to go ahead, according to The Sun and charities are warning that tweaking the system will not help the poorest families.

Elsewhere, campaigners have urged Mr Sunak to put the climate emergency at the heart of his Budget and end suspicions he is resisting the switch to net zero on cost grounds, with the Cop26 summit just days away.

He will claim the UK economy is entering a “a new age of optimism” as he sets out details on spending plans on the NHS, transport as well as an increase to the minimum wage and lifting the pay freeze on public sector workers.

Key Points

  • Rishi Sunak urged to put climate at heart of Budget announcement
  • Chancellor to pledge Covid recovery ‘optimism’
  • Rishi Sunak planning to soften blow of Universal Credit cuts with ‘taper rate’ tweak

Watch: Priti Patel faces questions from MPs

10:34 , Matt Mathers

Sunak has ‘£30bn’ extra to spend in Budget

10:25 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has an extra £30bn to spend when he sets out his Budget before parliament this afternoon, it has been reported.

According to The Times, the Office for Budget responsibility – the independent body whose forecasts guide Budget – is expected to up its growth outlook for 2021, cut its unemployment prediction and pencil in lower borrowing thanks to higher tax receipts.

Britain’s economy has bounced back from Covid lockdowns more quickly than economists had forecast, giving the chancellor more wriggle room for spending.

Its understood he will use the surplus cash to invest in public services.

Chancellor set to cut air passenger duty tax on some domestic flights

09:26 , Chiara Giordano

The chancellor is expected to cut Air Passenger Duty (APD) for some domestic flights in today’s Budget speech.

The Independent understands Rishi Sunak will reduce the flat-rate tax on departures between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to zero – cutting the cost of a domestic return flight connecting England, Wales or Scotland with the airports of Belfast or City of Derry by £26.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has the full details:

Budget speech – live: Sunak plans last-minute move to soften benefit cuts as he pledges recovery ‘optimism’
© Provided by The Independent

Chancellor set to cut APD tax on some domestic flights in today’s Budget announcement

Everything we know so far about the chancellor’s spending plans

09:05 , Chiara Giordano

Our economics editor Anna Isaac has put together this handy guide to the chancellor’s headline pledges so far, which includes a sense of what they may mean in practice:

Budget speech – live: Sunak plans last-minute move to soften benefit cuts as he pledges recovery ‘optimism’
© Provided by The Independent

Budget 2021: Everything we know so far

Rishi Sunak planning to soften blow of Universal Credit cuts with ‘taper rate’ tweak

08:51 , Chiara Giordano

Rishi Sunak is planning to soften the blow of his cuts to Universal Credit by tweaking the benefits system, according to reports.

The chancellor is expected to change the so-called “taper rate” for claimants in work – a move which would let them keep more of their wages.

But the £20-a-week cut is still expected to go ahead – and charities warn that tweaking the taper will not help the poorest.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone explains more in this article:

Budget speech – live: Sunak plans last-minute move to soften benefit cuts as he pledges recovery ‘optimism’
© Provided by The Independent

Rishi Sunak planning to soften blow of Universal Credit cuts with ‘taper rate’ tweak

Labour calls on chancellor to set out urgent plan to support families through winter

08:40 , Chiara Giordano

Labour has called on chancellor Rishi Sunak to set out an immediate plan to support families through the winter when he delivers his Budget.

Shadow Treasury chief secretary Bridget Phillipson said many low-income families have been hit hard by the ending of the temporary £20-a-week increase in Universal Credit.

“It is the biggest cut to social security we have seen since the welfare state was created,” she told Sky News.

“For many families it is all they have ever known. A lot of families started receiving Universal Credit because of the pandemic. It is a massive hit to families’ incomes.

“We want to see immediate action to deal with the cost-of-living crisis facing families as we are entering a pretty tough winter for lots of people, but also businesses too.

“We have had a lot of smoke and mirrors going into this Budget, and it’s all very good and well the government promising things, but if that doesn’t lead to people feeling that extra support in their pocket, that will be the real test for the government.”

Reducing Universal Credit taper rate would help 1.7 million families

08:22 , Chiara Giordano

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 5.5 million families were affected by the £20 per week universal credit cut, our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn reports.

Reducing the taper rate – as speculated – will help 1.7 million families (those in work).

According to @jrf_uk 5.5 million families were affected by the £20 per week universal credit cut.

Reducing the taper rate – as speculated – will help 1.7 million families (those in work).

It’s certainly not a complete U-turn.

— Ashley Cowburn (@ashcowburn) October 27, 2021

Chancellor should ‘think carefully’ about pressures on those with modest incomes, says Robert Jenrick

08:01 , Chiara Giordano

Former cabinet minister Robert Jenrick has said chancellor Rishi Sunak will have to think carefully about the pressures on people on modest incomes when he delivers the Budget.

Mr Jenrick said that while there were “reasons for optimism”, the chancellor still had to contend with rising inflation and a global supply chain shortage.

“I think the OBR forecasts are going to show the economy has grown substantially therefore we are borrowing much less as a country, and that gives the Chancellor more room to invest in the future of public services like the NHS,” Mr Jenrick told Sky News.

“But I think he is also going to have to think carefully about people on the most modest incomes and how he can help them in what is undoubtedly still going to be a difficult period when we are seeing inflation rising, higher energy prices and so on.”

Chancellor urged to use budget to help scots facing ‘real cost of living crisis’

07:50 , Chiara Giordano

Scotland’s finance secretary has urged the chancellor to reinstate the £20 a week recently removed from Universal Credit.

Kate Forbes said Scots were facing a “real cost of living crisis” in a letter to Rishi Sunak as she called on him to use his keynote address in the Commons to “provide certainty to the wider public sector, boost the economy and support our most vulnerable at this challenging time”.

Ms Forbes, who will set out the Scottish government’s draft budget for next year in December, stressed ministers at Holyrood were “strongly opposed to any return to austerity”.

The finance secretary appealed to the chancellor to re-think the government’s recent decision to end the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit introduced during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chancellor to pledge Covid recovery ‘optimism’

07:40 , Chiara Giordano

Rishi Sunak will hail a “new age of optimism” in his budget amid predictions he will have more money than expected to spend due to a fast bounce-back from Covid.

The chancellor is set to strike an upbeat tone as he talks up building a “stronger economy of the future”, with the promise of rising wages, cash for the NHS and investment into regional transport projects.

Mr Sunak’s spending plans are likely to be bolstered by forecasts of faster growth than predicted in the spring as the economy roars back into life since the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, according to analysts.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the independent body whose forecasts guide Budget spending, is expected to up its growth outlook for 2021, cut its unemployment prediction and pencil in lower borrowing thanks to higher tax receipts.

Rishi Sunak urged to put climate at heart of budget announcement

07:36 , Chiara Giordano

Rishi Sunak has been urged to put the climate emergency at the heart of his Budget and end suspicions he is resisting the switch to net zero, with the Cop26 summit just days away.

The chancellor will today unveil measures to raise wages, rescue the NHS, boost skills and improve transport links in a three-year spending settlement setting the battleground for the next general election.

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has more details:

Budget speech – live: Sunak plans last-minute move to soften benefit cuts as he pledges recovery ‘optimism’
© Provided by The Independent

Rishi Sunak urged to end doubts and put climate crisis at heart of Budget

07:34 , Chiara Giordano

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live UK politics coverage. We’ll be bringing you all the latest stories and headlines as chancellor Rishi Sunak delivers his budget in the House of Commons today.

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