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Autumn statement 2013: as it happened

All the updates from chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement as it happened.

In summary:

  • Growth OBR increased its growth forecast for this year from 0.6 per cent in March to 1.4 per cent today.
  • Deficit On the underlying deficit, from 11 per cent in 2010 it now falls to 6.8 per cent this year, lower than forecast. By 2018-19, the OBR is expecting no deficit, but a small surplus.
  • Housing £1bn of loans to be provided to unlock housing developments. Two more banks, Aldemore and Virgin, join Help to Buy. £300m increase in the Housing Revenue Account borrowing limit and councils will be able to sell off the most expensive social housing.
  • Nuclear New nuclear power station planned for Anglesey, along broadly similar terms to Hinkley Point C.
  • Infrastructure The National Infrastructure Plan was unveiled yesterday – view the full pipeline here. There will also be more investment in quantum technology and a new science centre will be built at Edinburgh University.
  • Shale gas Early tax on shale gas profits cut by 50 per cent.
  • Business rates The inflation increase in business rates will be capped at 2 per cent a year from April 2014. Businesses will be allowed to pay in 12-monthly installments, with reform of business rates on the agenda for 2017. Rules that discourage small firms from expanding will also be relaxed.
  • Skills 30,000 more student places will be provided next year, with the cap on student places removed in 2015. There will also be an additional 20,000 higher apprenticeships over the next two years.
  • Jobs 400,000 jobs forecasted to be created this year, with businesses creating three jobs for every one lost in the private sector. National insurance contributions for under-21s will be removed to reduce the cost of employing young people.
  • Exports Export finance capacity to be doubled to £50m.


13:24: That brings this liveblog to an end. Keep an eye on our dedicated autumn statement page for all the latest stories, comment and analysis.

12:48: Here’s our story on the chancellor’s pledges to boost housing, including £1bn of loans to unlock new developments.

12:45: An interesting point from Robert Peston on the BBC - if the government hits its targets, then in 2018-19, spending as a proportion of GDP will be at its smallest since 1948.

12:40: A reminder that the full transcript of chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement speech can be read online here.

12:25: On the deficit, Mr Osborne says the OBR is predicting that from 11 per cent in 2010, the underlying deficit now falls to 6.8 per cent this year – instead of the 7.5 per cent they were forecasting back in March.

It then falls to 5.6 per cent next year, then 4.4 per cent, 2.7 per cent and in 2017-18, 1.2 per cent.

By 2018-19 the OBR is expecting there will be no deficit, but a small surplus.

12:24: A reminder of the headline growth forecasts from the chancellor’s speech today:

The Office for Budget Responsibility has increased its growth forecast for this year from 0.6 per cent in March to 1.4 per cent today.

It is predicting that will increase to 2.4 per cent next year, up from the previous forecast of 1.8 per cent. The growth forecasts for the following four years are now: 2.2 per cent, 2.6 per cent, 2.7 per cent and 2.7 per cent.

12:21: Ed Balls comes to the end of his response now too.

12:20: The shadow chancellor accuses the government of sneering at building more affordable homes, and asks why infrastructure output has fallen by 15 per cent since 2010?

12:17: “This government just doesn’t get it,” says Mr Balls, referring to energy and the “cost of living crisis”. He claims the government stands up for the energy companies and hedge funds, but not for the ordinary British people.

12:15: George Osborne’s speech can be read in full online here.

12:12: Mr Balls describes recent Tory initiatives to reduce energy bills as an attempt to “steal Labour’s clothes”. He asks Osborne to confirm that his policy will still see energy prices rise this winter.

“Does he think he can get away with tinkering on the edges? Moving green levies that his party introduced off the bills and onto the taxpayer?” says Mr Balls.

“Nothing less than a freeze will do. It should be the excess profits of the energy companies that picks up the tab.”

12:08: Speaker Jon Bercow has to interrupt to quieten the House - he even encourages one MP to take up yoga to calm himself.

12:07: Mr Balls says that Mr Osborne is in “complete denial”, prompting bellows from both sides of the House.

12:07: That brings Mr Osborne’s speech to a close, saying “Britain’s moving again. Let’s keep going”. Mr Balls’ chance to respond now.

12:05: “We will abolish the jobs tax on young people under the age of 21,” says the chancellor. The cost for small businesses of employing a young person on £16,000 per year will fall by £1,000.

12:00: The chancellor calls Labour’s promised energy bill freeze an “elaborate con”. “Going green does not have to cost the earth,” he says, saying his political philosophy is to reduce regulation and legislation to encourage innovation and growth.

12:00: Don’t miss our full round-up of all the reaction to yesterday’s National Infrastructure Plan announcements - free to read here.

11:59: “Business rates capped - and for the smallest firms no rates at all … We’re backing British business all the way,” says Mr Osborne.

11:57: He now moves on to business rates - inflation increase will be capped at 2 per cent a year from April 2014. Businesses will be allowed to pay in 12-monthly installments, with reform of business rates on the agenda for 2017. Rules that discourage small firms from expanding will also be relaxed.

11:56: The chancellor says it would be “economic madness” to pursue a rise in corporation tax. A range of different tax reliefs are announced.

11:53: “We will provide 30,000 more student places – and the year after we will abolish the cap on student numbers altogether,” says Mr Osborne. Could this help overcome the coming skills shortage in construction?

11:51: Investing in infrastructure and improving education are both key to economic growth, Mr Osborne says. He announces there will be an additional 20,000 higher apprenticeships over the next two years, with a big increase in start-up loans and an extension to the New Enterprise Allowance.

11:49: Councils will also be able to sell off social housing in expensive areas.

11:48: The chancellor also announced £1bn of funding to unlock housing developments.”If we want more people to to own a home we have to build more homes,” he says.

11:47: Right to Buy applications have doubled under the coalition, and it will be expanded, says Mr Osborne. Aldermore and Virgin will join the Help to Buy scheme, he announces.

11:46: A new science centre in Sir Peter Higgs’ name to be built at Edinburgh University, and there will be new tax allowances for shale gas development.

11:45: He refers to the National Infrastructure Plan unveiled yesterday, details of which can be found here.

11:44: Mr Osborne moves onto infrastructure now - “We’ve made tough choices about priorities on spending and we’re sticking with them”.

11:43: “Britain is a country that welcomes investment from all over the world,” says Mr Osborne, as he announces capital gains tax will be introduced for non-residents of the UK who sell UK property.

11:41: The chancellor is now discussing the raising of the pension age, part of “sound public finances”.

11:33: The full pipeline of infrastructure projects announced yesterday can be viewed here - over £375bn of spending in total.

11:27: Mr Osborne says the OBR is predicting that from 11 per cent in 2010, the underlying deficit now falls to 6.8 per cent this year – instead of the 7.5 per cent they were forecasting back in March.

It then falls to 5.6 per cent next year, then 4.4 per cent, 2.7 per cent and in 2017-18, 1.2 per cent.

By 2018-19 the OBR is expecting there will be no deficit, but a small surplus - one year early.

11:25: OBR forecasts 400,000 jobs to be created this year. Businesses have created three jobs for every one lost in the public sector, with OBR forecasting this to continue - 2.1m jobs to be created by 2014, more than offsetting public-sector job losses.

11:23: Mr Osborne announces he is doubling, to £50m, the export finance capacity to British businesses to help exports to emerging markets - like China, where prime minister David Cameron is currently on a visit.

11:22: The chancellor says that Britain is growing faster than any other advanced developed economy, including France and the United States.

11:20: Office for Budget Responsibility data revisions prove that there was “no double-dip recession”, says Mr Osborne. Growth of 2.4 per cent forecast for next year - “significantly up” over the forecast period and the “largest improvement in economic or budget forecasts at any autumn statement for 14 years”.

11:19: “Business taxes are still too high and exports are still too low - and we must address that,” says Mr Osborne.

11:17: The chancellor says that those who predicted there would be no growth until spending began again have been proved “comprehensively wrong”.

11:16: Mr Osborne begins his speech. “Britain’s economic plan is working,” he says.

11:05: The updates to the National Infrastructure Plan were unveiled yesterday by chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, with six insurers pledging £5bn per year for infrastructure until 2019. Read more on our dedicated autumn statement page here.

10:56: Welcome to our live coverage of the 2013 autumn statement. My name’s Daniel Kemp and I’ll be updating you on all of the announcements relating to the construction industry as they happen.

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