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February 14, 2018
Chancellor George Osborne announced a series of bold measures affecting business, individuals and the welfare state in his Second Budget.
Heralding the plans as a ‘big Budget for a country with big ambitions’, the Chancellor unveiled his announcements with the stated aim of moving from a ‘low wage, high tax, high welfare economy’ to a ‘higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare country’ over the coming five years.
The Chancellor announced that the Office for Budget Responsibility had revised down its UK economic growth forecast to 2.4% for 2015, and that the budget surplus will now be reached a year later than planned, in 2019/20. However, the Chancellor was keen to emphasise the importance of Britain ‘getting its house in order’.
The Chancellor announced further details of the much-anticipated £12bn of welfare cuts, including a four-year freeze for most working-age benefits, a reduction in the household benefit cap to £20,000 (£23,000 in London), and the introduction of a new two-child limit for Tax Credits, for those children born from April 2017. Student maintenance grants will also be scrapped, together with housing benefit for under-21s.
Other measures announced include a freeze in fuel duty for the rest of the year, a planned relaxation of Sunday trading laws for England and Wales, and a new roads fund to be supported by Vehicle Excise Duty.