Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond unveils a Budget this week that he hopes will save his career.
The Cabinet minister will hit back after a shambolic first Budget and months of in-fighting with his own Cabinet over Brexit.
Pro-Remain Mr Hammond admits “an awful lot of people” want him “dislodged”, so will use the Budget to try and dispel his “Eeyore” gloomy image with a pitch to young, left-behind voters.
And they’re the people who count. Because with all that Tory bickering it’s easy to forget what the Budget’s really about – you.
As Mr Hammond bluntly says: “We will not allow the current young generation to be the first since the Black Death not to be more prosperous than its parents’.”
So will his grand plan work? Here’s everything we know or think will be in the Budget so far – so you can make up your own mind.
Philip Hammond will deliver his Budget on Wednesday 22 November at 12.30pm.
You can follow it live on mirror.co.uk with our blow-by-blow blog, key stories, analysis and a video feed.
The Chancellor speaks for about an hour in the House of Commons straight after Prime Minister’s Questions, which tends to get overshadowed on Budget Day.
He is followed by Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and then a marathon debate that spills into the next day.
Hang on, didn’t we just have a Budget?
Yes. Last year the Chancellor surprised everyone by announcing he was moving the Budget from Spring to Autumn.
So even though we had a Budget on March 9, it’s happening again now.
This new system replaces the Autumn Statement, which is moving to become a Spring Statement instead and is set to be a lower-key affair.
These are things that’ve been officially announced, or everything but.
New figures on borrowing and debt
Every Budget starts by rattling off government borrowing and debt for the next few years.
And every year journalists have a “bingo card” to compare the Chancellor’s pronouncements to what he said they’d be a year ago.
Often, they’re worse.
Last year Mr Hammond revealed national debt would top 90% of GDP in 2017/18.
It’s since come down, and of this Budget he’s said: “It’s definitely a number that starts with 8.”
300,000 new homes a year
The Budget will announce plans to get 300,000 homes built a year, Philip Hammond told the Sunday Times.
He promised the government would do “whatever it takes” to get homes built, including underwriting loans to construction firms, and getting planning permissions built instead of “banked” to push up prices.
But there are problems.
It was claimed he would find just £5billion for housing schemes – well short of the £50billion demanded by his own colleague Sajid Javid. He also vowed to protect the green belt, raising questions over where all the homes will be built.
And crucially, he did not say how many of the homes will be affordable or social housing.
Separately it’s thought he’ll confirm £10bn Theresa May promised to extend the Help to Buy scheme.
A freeze on student fees
The Tories have already announced university tuition fees would not rise beyond £9,250 next year.
Those who graduated after 2015 will also not start repaying loans until they earn £25,000 – up from the current £21,000.
Ministers were accused of not going far enough, despite the move costing an estimated £2.3bn. It’s thought the Budget will now spell out exactly what that cost will be.
Driverless cars on the roads by 2021
The Tory government has announced it wants to put driverless cars on British roads by 2021, with a testing plan to be revealed on Wednesday.
The Budget will also include £400m for electric car charge points, £75m for artificial intelligence, and £160m for the rollout of early 5G networks for super-speed phone data.
There will be £76m to boost digital and construction skills, £100m for sales of clean cars, and a retraining partnership with unions and business, the Treasury said.
Philip Hammond is only making his first trip in a driverless car two days before the Budget. And his dramatic plans have drawn the ire of Jeremy Clarkson – who said the vehicles nearly killed him.
More cash to prepare for Brexit
Four government departments have already been handed £250m to prepare for Brexit – including ‘no deal’.
But people like the Border Force have warned they’ll need much more, even if there is a deal, because of all the people they have to recruit just in case.
Jon Thompson, permanent secretary of HM Revenue and Customs, said he would need 3,000 to 5,000 extra staff and £450m to pay for no deal.
Expect another cash injection on Wednesday.
A tax on takeaway trays and cups – maybe
The Chancellor will announce a “call for evidence” on whether polystyrene kebab and burger trays, throwaway coffee cups and bubble wrap should be taxed.
It could lead to a tax on single-use plastics to help prevent pollution in the world’s oceans and to protect the environment.
Sir David Attenborough described the “heartbreaking” sight of an albatross feeding plastic to its young chick in filming for Blue Planet II.
Here are our best educated guesses of what might, or probably will, be in the Budget – they just haven’t been fully confirmed.
A U-turn on Universal Credit
Ministers are poised to finally slash the six-week wait for universal credit payments – caving in to fears from charities, Labour and their own Tory MPs.
The wait time will be cut to 31 days, and will be announced in the Budget, the Sunday Times claimed.
It comes after warnings the delay was leaving vulnerable people destitute and at risk of eviction.
MPs voted unanimously to cut the waiting time to four weeks after the Tories opted not to take part in the vote, fearing defeat. Ministers and Theresa May have repeatedly hinted at a climbdown.
A pay rise for nurses
The government’s said the 1% pay rise cap in the public sector is finally ending next April.
But Philip Hammond could go a step further and explicitly announce funding to guarantee a pay rise for certain workers. And reports suggest it’ll be nurses.
He hinted just that, telling the BBC: “Our public services do brilliant work. They’ve performed extraordinarily well and for example the NHS, which you wouldn’t believe this listening to some opposition politicians, but public satisfaction with the NHS is at a 20 year high.”
Hospital parking charges scrapped
Hospital car parking charges – dubbed an NHS stealth tax – could finally be scrapped in England.
Treasury sources told the Sunday Mirror the move, which will cost £200million and bring England in line with Scotland and Wales, is “firmly on the agenda”.
One source said the Tories’ DUP allies would support it.
“If they’re keen for this to form part of the Budget – and we know they are – it puts extra pressure on the Chancellor to include it,” the source said.
A freeze in fuel duty
Fuel duty’s already been frozen for six years and this could be the seventh.
Motorists are target Tory voters, and MPs have already piled pressure on the Chancellor to keep the tax where it is.
The government has not shied away from the suggestion it’ll do just that.
A freeze or cut in beer duty
Alcohol duty rose for only the first time in five years at the Spring Budget. So there’s a good chance it’ll be held this time.
But more than 50 Tory MPs, led by Nigel Evans, want the Chancellor to go further and cut the duty.
They also want to scrap the system that bases rises on the RPI measure of inflation.
A Millennial Railcard
Leaked plans suggested there would soon be a ‘Millennial Railcard’ – giving people aged 26 to 30 a third off rail travel. This could be announced as a Budget measure if Philip Hammond wants an easy PR victory.
A railcard is already available for those aged 16 to 25.
It was suggested an early trial would cost £20m in lost ticket cash – with the Treasury making up the difference.
An income tax cut – including for the rich
At some point the Tories need to raise the income tax threshold, and it could well be in this Budget.
They’ve committed to raising the tax-free personal allowance to £12,500 (it’s now £11,500) by 2020.
And people will only start paying the 40% rate of income tax if they earn £50,000. Currently it’s £45,000… so this will basically be a tax cut for the richest 13% of Brits.
A cut to Stamp Duty
Calls are mounting to cut Stamp Duty, a fee buyers of houses over £125,000 must pay, for first-time buyers.
Mr Hammond dropped a big hint, telling the BBC: “We recognise the challenge for young first time buyers, that in many parts of the country deposits are now very large.
“We’ve already put in place schemes like the Help to Buy Equity Loan which have given 400,000 odd first time buyers an opportunity to get onto the property ladder.
“But again, nobody is saying we’ve done enough. We must do more. We recognise there’s a challenge there and on Wednesday I shall set out how we intend to address it.”
A National Insurance hike
In his last Budget, the Chancellor was forced to abandon a hike in National Insurance (NICs) for the self-employed from 9% to 11%.
But he made clear he’d taken the “right approach” – he only ditched it because he’d broken a pledge in the Tories’ 2015 manifesto.
The Tories’ 2017 manifesto made no promise to stop a NICs hike. So prepare for the worst.
£4bn for the NHS
There might be cash for the NHS. But the Chancellor prompted anger by dismissing pleas for a £4bn pot by none other than the head of the service, Simon Stevens.
He said: “In the run up to Budget people running all kinds of services, government departments come to see us and they always have very large numbers that are absolutely essential otherwise Armageddon will arrive.”
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