Rishi Sunak’s Budget message: Growth up, jobs up, debt down
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Rishi Sunak’s Budget message: Growth up, jobs up, debt down

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivered his Autumn Budget to the House of Commons this week, with the promise of delivering stronger growth for the British economy.

While warning of some “challenging months” ahead with inflation expected to rise, he unveiled an extra £150 billion investment as part of the Budget and Spending Review. A new temporary business rates relief for the hospitality industry, a freeze on fuel and alcohol duties and increasing the country’s National Living Wage to £9.50 from April 2022 were among some of the key announcements.

“The Budget delivers a stronger economy for the British people: stronger growth, with the UK economy recovering faster than our major competitors,” said Sunak.

“Stronger public finances, with our national debt finally under control. Stronger employment, with fewer people out of work and more people in work. Growth up, jobs up, and debt down: let there be no doubt – our plan is working,” he said.

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The British Indian finance minister, in charge of the UK’s economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic, said the Budget was designed to create jobs, improve skills, tackle health service backlogs, put more police on the streets, and build new homes, hospitals, and schools. The UK Treasury said its latest figures show that the economy is on track to reach pre-pandemic levels by early next year, with unemployment peaking at less than half what was initially predicted.

Among some of the measures expected to prove popular include an end to a duty premium on sparkling wines and a cut in the cost of a pint of beer of 3 pence.

Sunak announced £5.9 billion to tackle the National Health Service (NHS) backlog of non-emergency tests and procedures, modernise digital technology and ensure there are at least 100 community diagnostic centres to help people across England get health checks, scans and tests closer to their homes.

To support pupils and teachers, he announced an additional £4.7 billion invested in the core schools budget in England. To boost wages, skills funding will increase by a total over the Parliament of £3.8 billion compared to 2019-20. And, for parents, he said £302 million will fund new early years programmes including bespoke breastfeeding services and parent-infant mental support, and funding to rollout Family Hubs across England.

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Sunak said: “The evidence is compelling that the first 1,001 days of a child’s life are the most important.

“We’re confirming £150mn to support training and development for the entire early years workforce. To help up to 300,000 more families facing multiple needs, we’re investing an extra £200mn in the Supporting Families programme. And we will provide over £200mn a year to continue the holiday activity and food programme.”

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