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Spring Statement March 2019

The following comments were written on the 13th March 2019 immediately following Philip Hammond’s presentation of the 2019 Spring Statement to Parliament. In theory, the government uses the Spring Statement to respond to the most recent forecasts made by the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR).

However, what follows is a short summary of the points Philip Hammond did raise.

Employment

  • Since 2010 there are more than 3.5m more people in work.
  • Employment is forecasted to increase by a further 600,000 by 2023.

Public finances

  • Debt fell last year and is forecast to fall continuously to 2023-24.

Tech and the new economy

  • In response to a government sponsored consultation, moves are afoot to update competition rules and increase competition in the digital economy.
  • The tech market place will be encouraged to allow smaller firms to participate.
  • Regulation may be introduced to make users’ personal data portable. For example, transfer lists of friends to new platforms and search engine histories to new search engines.

Border access

  • From June 2019, citizens of a number of non-EU countries will be able to use e-gates at UK airports and border crossing points.
  • The process of abolishing landing cards will also commence from June 2019.

Clean growth

  • Government is to explore schemes to encourage energy efficiencies for smaller businesses.
  • Developers will need to build in increases in biodiversity.
  • The decarbonisation of gas supplies is to be increased by using green gas suppliers.
  • From 2025 new homes will need to meet new low energy standards.

Housing and infrastructure

  • The government is on track to increase housing supply to its highest level since 1970 by the end of this parliament with an average of 300,000 properties a year.
  • A number of new steps were set out in the Spring Statement including the use of the Housing Infrastructure Fund and the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme to help the supply of more new homes across the country.

National Living and National Minimum Wage changes

  • The government has tasked the Low Pay Commission to make recommendations for changes to these rates to apply from April 2020. A response is required by October 2019.