March 21, 2015 10:17 am Published by

Work Programme performance figures

Official Work Programme Figures released today show that just over 400,000 people have found lasting work of at least 6 months on the Work Programme and more than 150,000 have stayed in a job for at least 18 months. The DWP press release can be found here, which notes the ERSA Job Start figures. ERSA’s statement can be found here.

The Budget

Yesterday the Chancellor, George Osborne delivered his final budget of the parliament. He described it as a ‘truly national budget’. He opened by stating that the latest OBR report showed that the UK economy was growing faster than any other EU country, and growth had been revised up. He also stated the importance of sticking to the existing deficit reduction plan. Earlier in the week the media had reported on welfare cuts including measures restricting child benefit to three children for new claimants and extending a freeze on benefit increases, as well as cutting the overall cap on welfare claims to £23,000 per household. In total welfare cuts will add up to 12 billion.

Key points with announcements, highlighted, below:

General

  • Lower paid now pay less income tax than at any time under previous government.
  • Tax relief is up – lifetime allowance will be down (from £1.25 million to £1 million) – less than four per cent will be affected – this will then be indexed against inflation.
  • Tax avoidance measures including – Common tax reporting and amended corporation tax.
  • Review of inheritance tax, looking at deed of variation, to report in the autumn.
  • Bank levy increase to 0.2 percent.
  • Abolish class two national insurance contributions for the self-employed.
  • Self-assessment paper tax return will be abolished all together from next year.
  • 5million pensioners to access their annuities – advise etc. will be provided
  • ISAs will be fully flexible, allowing the ability to remove savings and then replace without losing tax free interest
  • Introduce help to buy ISA – for every £200 you save for deposit the Government will add £50. Tax cut for first time buyers.
  • Personal savers allowance – from April £100 interest on all savings will be tax free.
  • Highlighted already announced cut to corporation rates of 20 per cent in two weeks.

Employment and living standards

  • More in work than ever before.
  • Lowest claimant rate since 1975.
  • OBR expect the employment rate to fall to 5.3 per cent.
  • Moving closer towards full employment.
  • 1000 jobs created every day – ‘Britain is working again’.
  • Rubbished claims that jobs growth was based on poorly skilled zero hours jobs, saying 80 percent of jobs are full time and 80 percent skilled, he added that in the North West employment was growing fasted in UK.
  • OBR shows living standards higher 2015 than in 2010.
  • Youth unemployment and child poverty are down. Apprenticeships have doubled.
  • Minimum wage will be £6.70 this autumn and aiming for £8 by end of decade – also includes the biggest increase ever in apprenticeship wage (30p increase)
  • Rise to £11 000 of tax free allowance – intention to raise to £12 000.
  • Highlighted intention to abolish National Insurance from next year for young apprenticeships.

Health

  • Investment in child mental health services.
  • Health North initiative – for teaching hospitals
  • Early access to online CTB for jobseekers and co-location of IAPT services in JCP – see attached document for further information.

Skills

  • New powers of skills funding for London Mayor

Devolution

  • Greater Manchester and Cambridge to keep 100 per cent of additional business rates – open to other approaches from other regions.
  • New rail franchise in South West.
  • Extend eight Enterprise zones – including Plymouth and Blackpool.
  • Northern Ireland will pass legislation for Stormont deal.
  • Continue work on Scottish devolution following Smith Report.

 

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