Parliament

Follow events unfold in the House of Commons as Chancellor Philip Hammond delivers his first Budget statement, which the Treasury says will help to prepare the UK for life after Brexit.

Jonathan Davies will be providing the live updates, analysis from Michael Baxter.

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13:38 - That's all from the live updates for the 2017 Spring Budget. See you in the Autumn!

13:32 - Michael Baxter will be analysing what the Budget means for our economy and businesses. And we'll also be bringing you reaction from the business community.

13:31 - Finishing off with a few announcements on the NHS and social care, Philip Hammond finalises his final Spring Budget to the House of Commons.

13:23 - Looking to the future and the technical skills required by the future workforce, Mr Hammond announces new 'T-Levels' which will replace 13,000 different qualifications with just 15. He says the amount of training 16-19 year olds receive will increase by 50%.

13:16 - The Chancellor says government must 'equip youngsters with the skills for the jobs of tomorrow', helping to close the digital skills gap and improve productivity.

13:14 - Mr Hammond also announces £16 million for a new 5G mobile technology hub and £200m to encourage investment in local full-fibre broadband networks.

13:11 - £23 billion has been promised as additional investment in innovation and infrastructure to help address the lagging national productivity level.

13:09 - On International Women's Day, the Chancellor announces a £5 million fund for 'returnships' to help women get back into work after taking career breaks to have children.

13:05 -

13:05 - Mr Hammond confirms National Living Wage will rise to £7.50 in April. 13:04 - Looking at Twitter, a lot of self-employed workers and entrepreneurs describing this Budget as an "attack on enterprise". 13:02 - The tax-free dividend allowance for directors and shareholders will be cut from £5,000 to £2,000 from April 2018. 12:57 - As expected, self-employed workers will pay a higher rate of National Insurance Contributions. However, it will go up to 10% next year, and 11% the year after. It was expected to go straight up to 12%. But those earning below £16,000 won't be affected. Mr Hammond claims a lower rate of tax for self-employed people costs the Treasury £5 billion a year. 12:55 - Philip Hammond says measures to tackle tax avoidance - some of which have already been announced - will raise over £800 million in tax revenue. 12:53 - Any business coming out of Small Business Rate Relief will not see bills rise more than £50 a month. Pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 will see a £1,000 discount on rates. And there will be a £300 million fund for local authorities to use to help with individual 'hard cases'. These measures amount to cuts worth £435 million for business rates. 12:48 - As previously announced, Corporation Tax will fall to 17% in 2020. Mr Hammond also announces there will be a 12 month delay for businesses below the VAT threshold on quarterly, digital tax reporting. 12:46 - OBR forecasts public sector debt will reach nearly 89% before falling below 80% by the end of the forecast period. 12:44 -

12:43 - The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicts that real wages will continue to grow each year for the forecast period. It may be that it is too optimistic, and there is a good chance real wages will fall within a few months, Michael Baxter explains.

The Chancellor also reveals “Public sector net borrowing as a percentage of GDP is predicted to fall from 3.8% last year to 2.6% this year.”

12:40 - Chancellor: In 2018 growth is forecast to slow to 1.6%, before picking up to 1.7% in 2019, 1.9% in 2020, and 2% in 2021.

He explains that growth in 2021 is largely the same as previous forecasts, but 'the path' to get there has altered.

12:37 - The government is "building foundations of stronger, fairer, more global Britain”, the Chancellor says.

Michael Baxter says:

"The UK economy is indeed exceeding expectations, but then the latest surveys suggest that the Eurozone is growing faster. Indeed, the latest Purchasing Managers Index tracking global manufacturing rose to a 69-month high."

12:36 - Here we go, Philip Hammond starts the 2017 Budget statement. He begins by painting a positive picture of a "robust" economy.

12:35 - While we wait for Mr Hammond to begin his Budget statement, a bit more background from our man, Michael Baxter:

"It is thought that the Chancellor will increases national insurance paid by the self-employed. At face value this seems like a perfectly logical policy, but fails to take into account the many negative issues associated with being self-employed, such as no holiday pay, no pay if you are sick, minimal regulatory protection; slightly lower national insurance was one of the few benefits.

"We are being told that Mr Hammond will announce a prudent budget, focusing on trying to improve budget finances as much as possible in advance of the UK leaving the EU. But, it could be argued that the UK would see greater benefit if the chancellor focused on measures to improve productivity, such as investment in infrastructure, training, to encourage improved digital skills and education, again with a digital emphasis. "

12:31 - Unsurprisingly, PMQs is running over time...

12:25 - Five minute klaxon!

12:14 - If you want to have your say on the Budget, you can either send us an email to editor@freshbusinessthinking.com or tweet us @freshbusiness.

12:06 - PMQs is underway. It starts off with various references to International Women's Day - so a great time to mention all the incredible female entrepreneurs we work with, and everything they do for this country!

12:04 - And that's not going down too well in the self-employed community. On email, Vince McLoughlin, a partner at Russell New, a firm of business, tax, and charity advisers, says:

"The goal for this government seems to be to remove any distinction between workers, the employed and those who are self-employed. However, I can understand the frustrations of the self-employed, who are a fundamental part of the wealth creating economy... We need to be careful that we aren't shackling these self-employed individuals by removing the freedom they need to grow their businesses. Because that could come to haunt the Chancellor."

11:58 - So what are we expecting for businesses from the Chancellor?

One widely expected factor is a hit on self-employed people. On top of already known plans to force self-employed workers to file tax returns on a quarterly basis, Mr Hammond is expected to announce an increase in National Insurance Contributions (NICs) from 9% to 12% on earnings above £8,000.

11:38 - Good morning, good morning, good morning! It's here once again; the Budget statement. Of course, it is Philip Hammond's first, and the last edition of the Budget in spring before it switches places with the Autumn Statement.

There's a little under an hour to go under the Chancellor gets underway. But there's the usual matter of PMQs to get through first. That starts at midday, before Mr Hammond takes centre stage at around 12:30.

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