A summary of new measures announced by the Chancellor Sajid Javid on 30 September:
A package of measures to support the next generation, promote economic growth, and prepare for a post-Brexit future, were announced by the Chancellor Sajid Javid yesterday (30 September).
The Chancellor pledged to increase the national living wage, increase funding for infrastructure and youth services, and provide up to £4.3bn for UK organisations – such as charities, businesses and universities – if certain types of EU funding end after Brexit.
National Living Wage
The Chancellor pledged that the NLW will be increased reaching two-thirds of median earnings within five years, provided economic conditions allow. He also pledged to change the NLW – currently for people over the ages of 25 – so that it applies to those aged 23 and over from 2021, and to those aged 21 and over within five years. The government will set out more details on the future policy framework, including the important role of the independent Low Pay Commission, at the Budget.
Investment in buses and roads
High quality and reliable infrastructure is essential to how people live, work and travel. The Chancellor announced that the government will invest £220m in bus services across England, which will fund new ‘superbus’ networks and expand the fleet of low-emission buses. He also confirmed the first projects in the forthcoming second Road Investment Strategy – the £25bn commitment for strategic roads between 2020-2025.
Youth Investment Fund
The Chancellor announced a new £500m Youth Investment Fund. This investment will help build 60 new youth centres across the country, refurbish around 360 existing youth facilities, and provide over 100 mobile facilities for harder to reach areas. The fund will also support the provision and coordination of high-quality services for young people, and an investment in the youth workforce.
To ensure that no part of the country is left without next-generation broadband, the Chancellor pledged £5bn to support the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband in the hardest to reach 20% of the country.
To help drive local growth, the Chancellor announced that the government would introduce an English Devolution White Paper, which would set out how further powers and funding would be devolved across England.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal and should the EU cease to fund UK organisations after Brexit, the government has provided a funding guarantee to organisations in receipt of certain EU programme funding (such as the European Regional Development Fund and Horizon 2020).
The Chancellor confirmed that the total amount expected to be covered by the guarantee would be £4.3bn for this financial year.
Responding to the speech by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester
Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:
“It’s good to hear the Chancellor committing to significant improvements to roads, broadband and mobile coverage.
“Yet some key business infrastructure priorities were notable by their absence. If the government really wants to generate a confidence boost in our business communities, it should also give an unequivocal green light to HS2 and to expansion at Heathrow and other airports.
“The UK still needs a comprehensive national infrastructure strategy, with the scale of resources needed to overcome the huge deficit built up over the last 50 years. Both our post-Brexit competitiveness and the achievement of the ‘net zero’ carbon target will require even bolder steps to transform our transport, energy and digital networks.
“While Britain dithers, others do. We’ve spent more than enough time talking about infrastructure projects – it’s time to get on and deliver.”
On increases to National Living Wage, Marshall said:
“The government’s ambition to raise and simplify the National Living Wage is laudable but the path to doing so must be on the basis of clear economic evidence, with ample time for businesses to adjust to any changes. Companies already face significant cumulative employment costs, including pensions autoenrollment, Immigration Skills Charge and the Apprenticeship Levy, so government must take action to alleviate the heavy cost-burden facing firms, or risk denting productivity and competitiveness.”
On contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit, Marshall said:
“Our business communities couldn’t be clearer. A messy and disorderly exit from the EU on October 31st would be a hammer blow for business confidence, investment and future growth plans. The government’s top priority must be to avert it.
“If an unwanted ‘no deal’ scenario comes to pass, businesses will expect a comprehensive response from the Treasury and the Bank of England — with help to support business cash flow, big incentives for investment, and action to stop the rises in upfront costs that firms are facing before they turn over a single pound.”