Plan for Government finances revealed in Autumn Statement

Osborne painted a positive picture for the country's future, pointing to optimistic projections for growth and for reduced unemployment. In his opening remarks, he commented on the improved state of the economy compared to four years ago, saying: "Today I present a forecast showing the UK is the fastest growing of any major economy in the developed world.

"The economy has grown faster than previously reported, up eight per cent over this Parliament. Business investment has risen by 27 per cent."

Osborne said that he expects the economy to grow by a further three per cent next year, with annual gains of just over two per cent predicted over the next five years.

He said that Government borrowing will fall drastically year on year. While public borrowing currently stands at £91.3 billion, a £4 billion surplus is expected by 2018/19.

Regarding taxation, the tax free allowance will be raised by £600 to £10,600 next year, while the higher rate tax band will move up to £42,385. Meanwhile, 25 per cent tax on profits from UK activity for companies with offshore profit arrangements is expected to raise £1 billion over the next five years. Some have called this a 'Google' tax in reference to the search engine giant's UK financial arrangements.

Osborne has reformed Stamp Duty to make it more progressive, with no tax liable on properties valued at less than £125,000.

The British Property Federation's Liz Peace welcomed the review of business rates and commented on how the system can be improved: “Basing a property tax on nine-year-old valuations is simply unfair and inefficient, and other countries have shown that with the use of technology you can design a far more responsive system. The compounding effect of annual RPI increases is also meaning that a higher proportion of taxation each year is coming from business rates, sucking the blood from our high streets and eroding many other businesses’ competitive edge.

“Undertaking a root and branch review of the system is a big decision which many politicians have shied away from, and it makes today’s announcement particularly welcome."

Some were disappointed that there was not more focus on devolution. Clive Betts, the Labour chair of the Commons local government committee said there was  “no significant statement by George Osborne about new powers and responsibilities for Sheffield and South Yorkshire”.

“Devolution is not about councils implementing government decisions about both policy and finance. There must be financial devolution as well."

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