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Budget news: Philip Hammond's claim that 'austerity is coming to an end' faces fierce scrutiny

Follow all the latest updates from Westminster

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 30 October 2018 18:10
Budget 2018: the 6 biggest announcements

Philip Hammond's pledge that "austerity is finally coming to an end" has faced fierce scrutiny from MPs and economists delivering their verdict on the Budget.

The chancellor sought to strike an upbeat tone with a multi-billion pound giveaway on Monday, which included early tax cuts for millions of workers, minimum wage rises and the decision to plough some £1bn into the troubled universal credit scheme.

However respected economic thinktank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), said Mr Hammond had taken a "gamble" with the public finances, which could lead to higher borrowing and debt.

Experts from the Resolution Foundation also ran the rule over the Budget, warning that low and middle-income families would be hit hardest by the measures.

Meanwhile, John McDonnell became embroiled in a row when he stood by his support for the chancellor's tax cuts for the middle classes in the face of criticism from his own party.

The shadow chancellor said he would not reverse changes that benefit higher earners because people like head teachers have had a "rough time" in recent years.

But Labour MPs said the move was wrong, and condemned him for supporting the wealthy while there are "people dying on British streets".

If you want to follow our coverage as it happened, see the updates below


Welcome to The Independent's politics liveblog, where we will be bringing you all the latest updates throughout the day.

Lizzy Buchan30 October 2018 08:25

Austerity will continue for five more years if Britain crashes out of the EU with no deal, Philip Hammond signalled, in a Budget warning to MPs threatening to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit plans.

More here: 

Lizzy Buchan30 October 2018 08:56

Philip Hammond has been all over the airwaves this morning, defending yesterday's Budget, which seems to have received a pretty positive response from many papers.

Here's some highlights:

He told the Today programme that the deficit will decline in every year of the forecast period, and he retained an ambition to balance the budget.

Asked if some government departments faced cuts in the coming years, Mr Hammond said: "The overall envelope of funding that's available in the spending review, once you take out the commitment we've made to health, gives flat real spending available for all other departments."

Pressed on whether that meant some departments would be hit by cuts, he replied: "That's a choice that we make, isn't it?

"You do have a choice of everybody having 0.0 per cent real, in other words maintaining their spending power in real terms after inflation year after year after year."

Mr Hammond said he expected a deal to be agreed with the EU but warned that a no-deal Brexit could be a shock to the economy.

He said: "If the economy suffers a shock - and a no-deal Brexit is an example of a shock, but actually we know from history that sometimes the shocks that hit the economy are not the ones we are expecting but ones we aren't expecting - if there's a shock to the economy, we will deal with it in the usual way.

"Very often a shock to the economy actually requires a boost to spending in the short term to support demand and to keep the economy going."

Lizzy Buchan30 October 2018 09:25

Philip Hammond also appeared on ITV's Good Morning Britain, where he told presenters he was happy with his job - after he was handed a mug reading prime minister.

Asked if the giveaway Budget was designed to pave the way for a general election, he said: "I hope not. What we are preparing for is Britain's future.

"We've spent a very long time rebuilding our economy after the crisis under the last Labour government, rebuilding our position, getting the economy working again, getting our public finances back into order.

"We've now turned a corner and we are able to give Britain a bit of good news."​

Lizzy Buchan30 October 2018 09:31

Philip Hammond‘s income tax cuts will “overwhelmingly benefit richer households” as the squeeze continues for lower-income families, according to one of the first independent analyses of the Budget.

The verdict from the Resolution Foundation comes after the chancellor declared “austerity is coming to an end” as he unveiled his Budget, providing billions in extra cash for universal credit and the NHS while he setting out a cut in income tax. 

More here:

Lizzy Buchan30 October 2018 09:57

Philip Hammond announcing the end of austerity will be remembered as one of the stupidest bits of political strategy in years, says Indy sketchwriter Tom Peck.

Read his take on the Budget here: 

Lizzy Buchan30 October 2018 10:15

Efforts to help survivors of the Grenfell fire received nothing in the Budget, despite a reported plea for up to £60m in extra funding.

A Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) source told the Press Association the money was needed for health support, housing and refurbishment of the Lancaster West estate.

It is in contrast to last year's Budget when £28 million in central government funding was granted to help pay for mental health and counselling services and regeneration in the west London neighbourhood.

The fire at the 24-storey block in June 2017 left 71 dead, hundreds homeless and many more requiring support for trauma.

RBKC's draft Grenfell Recovery Strategy was published this summer, and laid out a framework up to 2027 to help survivors and the bereaved and rebuild trust within the community.

A financial breakdown of the strategy was not included in the draft report, but it said: "The council cannot resource the recovery alone and will need to seek support from partners, including central Government."

Elizabeth Campbell, RBKC council leader, said in response to Monday's budget: "We will continue to ask for financial support for our communities, and we hope discussions will continue.

"The Grenfell recovery needs to be a long-term commitment, with sufficient resources in place to deliver it."

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: "Our main priority is to make sure that the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire receive the support they need.

"That is why we announced we will take responsibility for the Grenfell Tower site, making operational decisions until its future has been determined by the community.

"We are in discussions with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council about the future funding of the Grenfell Tower site."

Lizzy Buchan30 October 2018 10:37

Asked at a press conference in Oslo, Norway, whether the Budget paved the way to an early general election, Theresa May said: "No.

"We are not preparing for another general election. That would not be in the national interest.'' 

Lizzy Buchan30 October 2018 10:55

Our Europe correspondent, Jon Stone, has filed this breaking news story on Theresa May's claims that a general election 'would not be in the national interest'. 

Remember - she promised not to call an election before... 

Lizzy Buchan30 October 2018 11:00

The Democratic Unionist Party has withdrawn its threat to vote down the Budget, saying it will give Theresa May “another chance” to protect Northern Ireland in her Brexit deal.

However, it warned there would be “other opportunities” to defeat the prime minister – and potentially topple her from power – if its red lines over the Irish border are crossed.

More here: 

Lizzy Buchan30 October 2018 11:08

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