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Commenting on the Autumn Statement, Ryan Shorthouse, Director of Bright Blue, said:

“There were some welcome policies – banning estate agency fees on renters and raising the National Minimum Wage. However, taken together, the package doesn’t go far enough in matching the welcome rhetoric of Theresa May’s Government to better support those on modest incomes.

“This last Autumn Statement was a missed opportunity. The Chancellor could have maintained fiscal discipline but shifted spending priorities to help those ‘just about managing’ much more. And considering the economic storm clouds are gathering, he could and should have been bolder to improve business confidence.”

Universal credit

Commenting, Director of Bright Blue, Ryan Shorthouse, said:

“The softening of cuts to Universal Credit is a step in the right direction. But increasing work allowances, rather than reducing the taper rate, would have better helped those on the lowest incomes. Overall, the cuts to Universal Credits will make the majority of recipients worse off. The Chancellor could and should have postponed the raising of the Personal Tax Allowance and the salary threshold for the 40p tax band to enable the cuts to Universal Credit to be reversed”

Living standards

Commenting, James Dobson, Researcher at Bright Blue, said:

“Further increases to the personal tax allowance in this parliament will not benefit the five million lowest workers paid workers at all. While an increase in the salary threshold for higher rate taxpayers is the wrong priority. Instead, the Government should have postponed these two measures to help those who are “just about managing” by reversing further the cuts to Universal Credit and increasing the threshold which workers must earn before paying employees’ national insurance.”

Childcare

Commenting, Director of Bright Blue, Ryan Shorthouse, said:

“The continued roll-out of tax-free childcare is a welcome move, but doesn’t go far enough. The Chancellor could have been more imaginative in offering greater support for working families, such as through income-contingent loans for childcare, which could be designed to be fiscally neutral.”

Minimum Wage

Commenting, James Dobson, Researcher at Bright Blue, said:

“It is welcome news that the minimum wage will continue to increase under this Government. However, the less-than-expected 30 pence increase suggests that the Government may not meet its target of £9 an hour by 2020. This would be disappointing. Low pay remains a significant problem in the UK, and the Government should make larger increases in the next few years to ensure the £9 target is met.”

Salary sacrifice

Commenting, Head of Research, Nigel Fletcher, said:

“This is a sensible measure to focus tax and NI relief more appropriately on items that are a distinct public good, and which the government rightly wants to support, such as childcare, pensions and more environmentally-friendly travel. The existing regime for salary sacrifice is inequitable and too open to abuse.”

Triple Lock on state pension

Commenting, Researcher at Bright Blue, James Dobson said:

“It is good news that the triple-lock on pensions is being reviewed but the Government is wrong to maintain it in this Parliament. The triple-lock costs the Treasury around £6bn per annum. After housing costs, median pensioner incomes are now higher than non-pensioner incomes.

“The Chancellor should use the evolving fiscal environment to scrap the triple-lock as soon as possible. The money saved could be used to help the group that the Prime Minister considers to be “just about managing”.

Housing

Commenting, Head of Research, Nigel Fletcher, said:

“The UK is facing a serious housing crisis, so the government is right to intervene to tackle it. Banning ridiculous agency fees on private renters is a positive measure to help people in the growing private rented sector. But more radical policies are needed to boost the number of homes being built and better protect private renters. The Government should have substantially reduced Stamp Duty and allowed Council Tax to be increased on more expensive properties.”

Grammar school capital fund

Commenting, Head of Research, Nigel Fletcher, said:

“It is disappointing to see significant money being set aside each year for the expansion of grammar schools. Funding an increase in selective schools is a distraction from the objective of providing good school places for all children, on which the government has made good progress in recent years.

“The evidence shows grammar schools are an ineffective way of boosting the attainment of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The money could have been better spent on attracting and retaining graduates to teach in the poorest areas.”

Corporation Tax

Commenting, Ryan Shorthouse, Director of Bright Blue, said:

“The reduction in Corporation Tax does not go far enough. In the wake of the recent EU referendum, the Chancellor should be ensuring that the Government does everything it can to incentivise companies to invest and remain in the UK.

“In the US, the President-elect has signalled his intention to reduce corporation tax to 15%. This threatens the UK’s status as the country with the lowest corporation tax levels in the G20.”

Electric vehicles

Commenting, Sam Hall, Researcher at Bright Blue, said:

“These measures to support the roll-out of electric vehicles are very welcome. As well as reducing air pollution and carbon emissions, they will help to strengthen the UK’s role as a leader in electric vehicles. The Government should further incentivise electric vehicles by enabling all English cities to establish low emission zones, which would restrict access for polluting vehicles.”

Guarantees Scheme for Infrastructure

Commenting on this, Sam Hall, researcher at Bright Blue, said:

“It is great news that the Chancellor has retained this important scheme, which will improve access to capital for new infrastructure projects. It should now be used to guarantee new Help to Improve loans, which would enable households to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy measures.”

 

For further comment or to arrange an interview please get in touch with Laura Round: laura@brightblue.org.uk or 07543759844.