By Jonathan Davies
It's that time of year again, when winter starts and the Chancellor delivers the Autumn Statement.
The Autumn Statement is somewhat of a 'mini Budget', where the Chancellor updates Parliament and the country on the government tax and spending plans for the coming months.
You can follow the latest updates from the Autumn Statement right here throughout the day.
This page is no longer providing live updates. You can find a summary of the Autumn Statement here
13:53 - That's it for our live coverage in this article. Shortly, we'll have a summary of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement. And we'll keep bringing you reaction throughout the day.
13:43 - Manos Schizas, Senior Economic Analyst at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), says:
“I cannot recall a single budget post-recession that did not involve some tinkering, waiving, or rescheduling of business rates and we’ve said for some time that the Government should review rates if they’re no longer fit for purpose rather than maintain this uncertainty with incremental changes. But the more important issue is to make the business rates system neutral towards the choice of online versus bricks-and-mortar sales."
13:36 - I told you the announcement on business rates would be welcome. Peter Burgess, Managing Director at Retail Human Resources, says:
“It was vital that the Chancellor extended the package of relief measures he put in place in last year’s Autumn Statement.
"A reduction in business rates for all town centres will help them revive. This could also be easily paid for by raising council tax on wealthy homes and suburbs which, in turn, removes the needs for the much discussed mansion tax.”
13:31 - The reaction from the big organisations is starting to roll in.
John Allan, FSB National Chairman says:
“The Chancellor has listened to the needs of business, despite tight public finances. The focus must be on reducing the deficit not just for this Government but whoever holds the keys to Number 11 next year.
“The FSB is delighted to see the double small business rate relief remain for another year and a full review of the outdated business rates system, something we’ve long argued for.
“The £400 million released to back the British Business Bank and an extension to the Funding for Lending scheme will provide much needed cash for small businesses.
“For our long-term growth, the Chancellor is right to support young people via apprenticeships and to spend on infrastructure. Our roads and rail urgently need updating. The £15 billion he has allocated for roads will upgrade our network and boost growth in our regions.”
13:29 - That announcement on stamp duty has taken quite a few people by surprise. On email, Alistair Bingle, Managing Director of family owned removals company, Bishop’s Move, says:
“The announcement of Stamp Duty reform has been a long time coming and will give the housing market a much needed boost as it ambles along its traditional pre-Election slow-down. The Stamp Duty thresholds are clearly outdated and don’t reflect current prices — in fact these announcements should have been introduced earlier this year during the Budget. With the average cost of a UK home now £272,000 and £514,000 in London, by easing the Stamp Duty bill for people at the bottom of the ladder but with much heavier charges on those buying expensive homes, this also takes away the need for the much maligned Mansion Tax. By reducing the Stamp Duty penalty which buyers face when crossing into a higher stamp duty tax band, this will have a significantly positive impact on getting the market moving by encouraging people to upsize and increasing the supply of houses for first-time buyers, who are key to stimulating the UK property market.”
13:27 - That's the end of the Autumn Statement, from George Osborne at least. Now Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls is having his say.
13:24 - The Chancellor George Osborne says the UK has a "long term economic plan" on the course to economic stability. And so he ends.
13:21 - The Chancellor says stamp duty will be reformed. Stamp duty will be raised for the most expensive 2% of homes - the Conservatives' answer to the 'mansion tax'.
13:19 - Mr Osborne confirms plans to raise the higher tax threshold to £50,000 by the end of the decade. The 40% threshold will be raised from $41,865 to £42,385 next year.
13:17 - The jobs tax on apprentices will be abolished.
And the Personal Allowance tax threshold will be raised to £10,600 next year, not £10,500.
13:16 - Another of the expected announcements, those inheriting a pension or savings from a partner who has died will not be taxed.
13:14 - Unsurprisingly, the recommendations of the Smith Commission are being implemented.
13:13 - Business rates will be fully devolved to the Welsh government, the Chancellor says. Corporation tax could be devolved to Northern Ireland.
13:12 - Again, as expected Mr Osborne unveils more of his plans to create a northern economic powerhouse. He welcomes over northern cities to work with the government on devolution.
13:10 - The Chancellor announces a government backed £10,000 fund for young people taking post-graduate university courses.
13:08 - As we expected, plans to freeze fuel duty, cut Air Passenger Duty for under 12s and the £12bn road improvement fund are confirmed.
13:06 - Mr Osborne extends business rates relief for another year. He also confirms a review of the business rates system. Judging by the comments we received before the Statement, that will go down very well.
13:03 - The Chancellor describes the UK as the "most entrepreneurial country" and confirms plans to boost funding for SMEs.
13:00 - George Osborne confirms the so-called "Google Tax" against multinational firms who use 'clever accounting' to avoid paying taxes. Tax will be 25% on profits. He also announces a crackdown on tax avoiders in various forms.
Something we weren't expecting is the announcement that the amount of profit in established banks that can be offset by losses carried forward will be limited to 50%, which the Chancellor says will bring in £4bn in tax over five years.
12:59 - As we expected, the Chancellor confirms the government will pay its World War One debt.
12:57 - Net UK payments to the EU forecast to fall in real terms by £1bn each year for the next five years, Mr Osborne says.
12:54 - George Osborne confirms £2bn of extra funding each year for the NHS. £1.2bn investment in GP services also announced.
12:52 - The Chancellor admits that the government will have to continue with spending cuts in the first two years of the next Parliament at the same pace as in this Parliament.
12:48 - Mr Osborne says the government will have a £20bn surplus by 2019-20.
12:46 - Chancellor says that based on revised figures, government borrowing is down. He expects a budget surplus by 2018-19.
12:45 - Inflation forecast 1.5% next year, 1.2% in 2016 and 1.7% in 2017 before reaching target (2%).
12:44 - George Osborne says unemployment forecast to fall to 5.4% in 2015, before settling at 5.3%.
12:41 - Forecasts: 3% in 2014, 2.4% in 2015, 2.2% in 2016, 2.4% in 2017 and 2.3% in 2018.
12:40 - OBR forecasts economic growth of 3%, against previous estimates of 2.4% and 2.7%, Osborne says.
12:39 - There's that phrase "warning lights are flashing over the global economy". The Chancellor announces a £45m fund to help exporters, specifically first time exporters.
12:38 - According to Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), there was no second recession under this government.
12:38 - But he accepts that the deficit is too high and promises policies to bring it down.
12:37 - Chancellor says the deficit is half of what the government inherited from Labour.
12:36 - George Osborne begins his Autumn Statement.
12:31 - And in true British style, PMQs is running over.
12:30 - Here here! for the calls to support Small Business Saturday.
12:26 - Not too much longer until George Osborne delivers his Autumn Statement.
12:14 - Catching a glimpse of George Osborne over the shoulder of the Prime Minister, it's safe to say he looks a little better than a couple of weeks ago during PMQs.
12:11 - Mr Cameron says the government has cut the deficit by a third. We'll soon find out about that when the Chancellor has his say.
12:08 - Prime Minister David Cameron says he's looking forward to "what's coming next".
12:06 - They're only a few minutes into PMQs and those playing Autumn Statement Buzzword Bingo or the Autumn Statement Drinking Game are already rolling around in money, or just rolling around.
12:04 - It's time for PMQs before the Autumn Statement.
12:01 - Something we perhaps shouldn't expect from the Chancellor today is tax breaks. On Monday, financial forecasting group EY Item Club, said that we shouldn't expect any tax breaks because there is 'nothing left in the cupboard'.
12:00 - Half an hour to go until the Autumn Statement starts.
11:56 - And we're getting helicopter shots of the Houses of Parliament. You know something important is happening when we get helicopter shots of Parliament.
11:44 - On email, Gareth Poppleton, MD of Retail Merchant Services, says: “There’s no denying that Britain’s high streets are under strain. The recent recession coupled with consumers’ growing addiction to online shopping has meant that retailers, particularly independents and market traders, have to do far more to compete.
“However, although the Government should be doing as much as they can to help the High Street succeed, retailers also need to adapt to changing consumer behaviour and embrace new technology.
“And, while new technology may seem daunting to smaller retailers, there are still many ways it can be utilised to fit with the scale of their business. The key to high street survival is to provide a proposition that shoppers want and then the means to help them browse and purchase in the manner most convenient to them.”
11:36 - So what's going to happen after the Autumn Statement? Two things really. Firstly, the Chancellor will point to things like strong growth and strong employment as indicators that the 'long term economic plan' is working. Everyone else will point towards the deficit - which Mr Osborne himself said would be eradicated by the end of this Parliament.
The race to the general election heats up today!
11:29 - But Mike Cherry, National Policy Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), says some of his members are facing a "cliff edge" when relief for business rates ends.
11:26 - John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), says he "appreciates" that the Chancellor may not be able to reform the business rates system due to budget constraints.
11:15 - So we've heard of Autumn Statement Buzzword Bingo, now there's an Autumn Statement Drinking Game! I imagine it's a pretty similar thing, expect rather than the possibility of winning some money, there's the probability of getting drunk.
11:02 - After a flurry of leaks and announcements about the Autumn Statement, it seems to have gone a bit quiet. The quiet before the storm perhaps?
10:32 - There's now less than two hours until George Osborne delivers the Autumn Statement. Let us know what you want to hear!
10:27 - Some more comments from businesses and what they want to hear from George Osborne today:
Ian Jackson, managing director at IT specialist Imerja:
“I’d like to see the government provide real support to facilitate innovation and growth for small to medium businesses. I want policies that can be implemented immediately rather than taking years to come to fruition. There’s too much red tape and bureaucracy which often renders promising policies useless.
“SME’s alone employ in advance of 14m people accounting for almost 50% of all private sector employment. I’d like to see real and enforced policies aimed at helping SME’s do business within health and wider public sector and ways to fast-track innovation - we want policies which can help us grow and to remove the blockers that are currently in place."
10:16 - Here's the story on that World War One debt. It's not certain that the Chancellor will make this announcement in the Autumn Statement, but it could well happen.
10:05 - It looks like Mr Osborne could also announce that the government will pay off its World War One debt. The £1.9bn debt will be paid on 9 March 2015.
09:51 - Away from the Autumn Statement, growth in the UK's services industry accelerated in November. It's big news because the services industry accounts for around 70% of the country's GDP. Employment was also up in the sector. I'm picturing a big Grinch-style grin on George Osborne's face.
09:37 - Anyone for a game of Autumn Statement Buzzword Bingo? That's what Ladbrokes is playing with its betting customers. As you might expect, Osborne is odds on to say "Long term economic plan" (probably several times). "Immigration", "Stonehenge", "Bringing down the deficit" and "White van" make up the top five.
09:23 - And we're also expecting an announcement about a review of the business rates system to help High Streets stores compete with their internet rivals. A review of business rates is a very common subject in our 'what businesses want' article.
09:21 - More on what we can expect to hear from the Chancellor today - He's likely to announce a guaranteed £500m of bank lending to SMEs and a £400m extension of a funding scheme.
09:10 - I've just realised that I've been editor of Fresh Business Thinking for a year now. The 2013 Autumn Statement came in my first week!
09:06 - On the so-called "Google tax", at the Conservative Party Conference earlier this year, George Osborne said "a tax on technology companies that will mean them paying more in the UK rather than diverting profits to other countries with lower tax rates".
We haven't heard anything too detailed about it this week, but don't be surprised if the Chancellor makes an announcement today.
08:52 - We've already had a warning against greater devolution in the North of England this morning. Stagecoach boss Martin Griffiths says it could lead to state-controlled bus services.
08:46 - So, what do we know so far? We pretty much know that George Osborne will announce:
- £2bn extra funding for the NHS
- £15bn worth of road improvements
- Continued freeze on petrol duty
- More plans for devolution in northern England
- Cuts to inheritance taxes on pensions
- Cut to Air Passenger Duty for under 12s
- A new law pledging to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18
- A crackdown on corporation tax avoiders
08:32 - Yesterday (Tuesday) we asked Fresh Business Thinking readers what they want to hear from George Osborne. We had so many responses that we decided to put it into a separate article. And you can find that right here.
08:28 - If you're wondering why the Autumn Statement takes place in December, so are a lot of people! The Autumn Statement traditionally took place in early November, which is much more autumn. But it was gradually pushed back, first by Gordon Brown who opted for late November in the early 2000s. He was also the first to take it into December.
08:21 - Good morning everyone. It's Autumn Statement day! We'll be bringing you the latest news and opinions on George Osborne's Autumn Statement all day, from what businesses want to hear, to live reaction.
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