RISHI Sunak today unveiled a whopping £150billion spending spree in a Budget that sprung several surprises.
A £2billion tax cut for Universal Credit claimants, booze duty cuts and wage hikes were seen as major wins.
1. UNIVERSAL CREDIT BOOST
Rishi Sunak’s main surprise of the Budget was a huge tax cut for nearly two million Universal Credit claimants.
Softening the blow of the axed £20-a-week uplift, he allowed claimants to keep 8p more for every pound they earn.
The Chancellor also raised the Work Allowance by £500 for people who are in work and have either kids or a member of their household who doesn’t work.
The Treasury said: “A single mother of two, renting in Darlington, working a full-time job on the National Living Wage, will see her take-home income increase by £1,200 on an annual basis.”
Rishi Sunak called it a £2billion tax cut. Extending the £20 uplift would have cost £6billion.
2. WAGE HIKE
Two key wage hikes were confirmed in today’s Budget as Mr Sunak put workers at the heart of his economic plan.
A 6 per cent rise in the minimum wage to £9.50 will see two million of the lowest earners take home more cash.
Public sector workers like police officers and teachers will have their pay unfrozen after lockdown belt-tightening last year.
Ministers will review recommendations from the independent pay review body that sets public sector pay.
Creating a “high skill, high wage” economy is one of the government’s key hopes as it seeks to cut back on cheap labour from abroad.
3. BOOZE BONANZA
The teetotal Chancellor gave the nation’s drinkers reason to cheers today with tax cuts on booze.
A pint of beer will be cut by 3p, a tin of gin by 9p and a bottle of prosecco by a whopping 87p.
But some fortified wines like port and cherry will be more expensive.
Toasting the Brexit booze boost, Mr Sunak said: “We are taking advantage of leaving the EU to announce the most radical simplification of alcohol duties for over 140 years.”
Pubs were also given a 50 per cent discount on business rates to give them a helping hand after lockdown.
4. SPEND SPEND SPEND
A whopping £150billion was splurged today as Mr Sunak unveiled a blizzard of new spending pledges.
There was £6bn for the NHS backlog, £2bn to build more houses, £5bn to remove dangerous cladding, and millions for culture, sport and crime.
The Chancellor seized upon a better-than-expected economic recovery that gave him wriggle room to open the nation’s wallet.
He declared the Conservatives the party of cash-splashing, while the Institute for Fiscal Statement said he was more Gordon Brown than George Osborne.
5. TAX BOMBSHELL
But it all comes as Brits are clobbered with the highest tax bombshell since the Second World War.
Last month National Insurance and dividend levies were whacked up by 1.25 per cent each.
Income tax thresholds also changed back during lockdown.
Mr Sunak said it would be irresponsible to fund government spending with increased borrowing.
But he said he wants to see taxes falling by the next election in 2024.
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