Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled his final Spring Budget, offering a £2bn cash boost for social care in a bid to rescue councils from the care crisis.
The £2bn will be spread across the next three years, with the first £1bn in 2017-18 as a ‘bridge’ to the Better Care Fund, the Chancellor claimed.
Recognising the scale of the adult social care problem facing local government and the health sector, Mr Hammond said the government was considering the options for the future of social are, and pledged a green paper later in the year.
Further funding was also promised for Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), which will be announced in the chancellor’s Autumn Budget, with £325m capital investment for the first STPs now.
The chancellor announced plans to review business rate revaluation in the future – including tackling taxes for digital businesses – but said he would not scrap business rates as they would be fully funding local government in the future.
He handed an extra £300m to local authorities to provide discretionary relief to local businesses, with details for follow, as well as a cap for firms coming out of business rate relief and a tax discount for pubs.
The Budget included some moves towards further devolution to local government, with more powers handed down to London and a Midlands Engine Strategy due to be announced tomorrow.
On transport, the Chancellor announced £90m for the North, £23m for the Midlands from a £220m for ‘pinch-points’ in the road network.
He also pledged a further £690m ‘competition’ for local authorities to tackle urban congestion, with further details to be announced by the transport secretary.
Mr Hammond confirmed a £320m funding package to build 110 new free schools. Figures from the Office of Budget Responsibility revealed good news for the Chancellor, with predicted growth upgraded for this year from 1.4% to 2%. Despite a dip to 1.6% in 2018, it is then expected to rise to 1.7%, then 1.9%, with growth for 2021 is expected to return to 2%.
Public sector net borrowing is also expected to bring good news, with 2016/17 £16.4bn lower at £51.7bn, the ONS has revealed. But despite the good news, the chancellor refused to give a cash giveaway for the budget due to the high levels national debt.
The chancellor pledged an ‘economy that works for everyone’. He said: ‘I report today on an economy that has continued to confound the commentators with robust growth. A labour market delivering record employment. And a deficit down by over two-thirds.
‘As we start our negotiations to exit the European Union, this Budget takes forward our plan to prepare Britain for a brighter future. It provides a strong and stable platform for those negotiations.’
Photo: Foreign and Commonwealth Office