By Marcus Leach
In many ways George Osborne faced an impossible task with the Autumn Statement, as try as he might there was simply no way of pleasing everyone, least of all given that there has been little in way of change since the Budget in March.
Below is the Autumn Statement as it happened.
Autumn Statement 2011 LIVE
13:40 And that, ladies and gentleman, is that. We will have plenty of reaction to today's events throughout the afternoon, and just what it will mean to you.
13:36 Hardly surprising that Balls believes Labour's five-point plan is what the country needs as he brings his statement to a close to cheers from his party.
12:34 "Government is giving with one hand and taking away with the other," says Balls. He says that the government's welfare changes are hitting women the hardest and that the chancellor will not admit he is wrong.
13:32 Praise for the youth unemployment plans, but heavy criticism for abolishing the then existing plans in place. Balls then claims bank lending to small businesses has fallen.
13:30 Now is the time to listen to the IMF according to Balls, as the current plan is clearly pushing up borrowing. The last thing the country needs is another fantasy growth package, Balls says as he claims growth measures are 'cobbled together'.
13:28 "They don't like it, but this is the truth Mr Speaker," says Balls as the Speaker has to remind the House that Mr Balls will be heard. Only Greece, Portugal and Cyprus have grown more slowly in the last year Balls says.
13:26 Balls says we have had all of the pain and none of the gain to loud cheers of approval from his back benchers. He then unloads a long list of excuses he thinks the chancellor has used, rather than admitting it is his failing plan. Ed Milliband nodding like a pet dog behind Balls here, clearly happy with the current situation.
13:22 Growth flatlining, unemployment rising and more borrowing, that is the view from Ed Balls. He says the chancellor has cut too far and too fast, leaving us, as a country, exposed to the growing global economic storm.
13:19 And now for Ed Balls to give his reply to the Autumn Statement, which , as you might guess, will look to paint an altogether different story to the one we have just heard. Mr Balls starts by saying Plan A of the government has failed, and failed colossally.
13:18 A government committed to take Britain safely through the storm is the chancellors closing gambit, highlighting that there are no quick fixes to the situation we find ourselves in, but this government is committed to doing all it takes to get us through the gloom.
13:15 Rail fare increases to be capped at RPI plus 1%, and 3p fuel duty planned for January to be cancelled, and reintroduced in August of next year.
13:14 260,000 free part-time childcare places for two year olds in England. Real initiatives set out here for motivating youths into work, now it is up to them to take it.
13:12 There will be private sector work experience for unemployed young people, and total unemployment will fall to 6.2% by 2015. There will also be an extra £1.2 billion for schools, £600 million for 100 new free schools as the chancellor says there is not just a lack of jobs, but a lack of skills too.
[13:10[/b] A 50% Income Tax relief for small start up business investors. Business rate holiday for small firms extended to April 2013. Now onto youth unemployment, a hot topic at present.
13:09 "If we tax firms out of the country there will be no tax revenues. We set our goal out, we want to give this country the most competitive tax regime in the G20," Mr Osborne says.
13:06 "We shouldn't price British businesses out of global trade," says the chancellor. New time limits for planning applications to be implemented. A point I missed earlier, the pension age rise to 67 is to be brought forward to 2026.
13:04 Plans to make it easier for British firms to bid for public contracts - Bombardier will feel this has come a little too late.
13:02 All options open for new airport hub except Heathrow, and a further £1 billion to go into regional growth fund for England.
13:00 35 new projects identified already, including 12,000 new jobs to be created by rail project in Bedford and Milton Keynes. Support for the extension of the Northern Line in London, which will create 25,000 jobs.
12:59 National Infrastructure Pan identifies over 500 new projects. The chancellor's comment of 'British savings for British jobs' brings sniggers. Money for such projects will be partly funded, £20 billion, from British pension funds.
12:57 Bank levy to rise to 0.088% from January 2012.
12:56 50% discount to tenants in social housing who wish to buy their own homes, with money from sale of council houses to be put into new building projects.
12:54 A 1% reduction in borrowing costs for small and medium sized businesses. Chancellor admits it is an ambitious plan but the government must get credit flowing to small businesses. Also, a £1 billion Business Finance Partnership announced.
12:52 On to small business lending now, where there will be a £40 billion ceiling on the National Loan Guarantee scheme. New loans eligible for businesses with turnover under $50 million, thus keeping the focus on small businesses.
12:50 Low interest rates must be available to businesses and families, and maintained to stave off the economic storm that is hitting Europe.
12:49 On pensions again: credit for poorest elderly people will be uprated by £5.35. Working age benefits will also be uprated by 5.2% in line with inflation. Stresses Britain will pay its way in the world.
12:48 Overseas aid commitments will be maintained, although previous plans would have seen contributions exceed the target of 0.7% of GDP. Budgets will be adjusted to keep it at that level but no higher.
12:47 Now to the public sector pensions, which will see over two million people strike tomorrow, and the chancellor calls for unions to call off the strikes and return to the negotiating table. There seems little chance of that happening this late in the day.
12:44 Public sector pay increases will be capped at 1% for two years after freeze. The chancellor admits this is tough, but it remains fair to tax payers.
12:42 The chancellor says there is no need to adjust overall totals in spending review,and that measures to be outlined require no further borrowing. Short-term savings will be sued to fund infrastructure and youth unemployment, nothing we didn't already know there.
12:40 Borrowing forecast: £79bn in 2014/15, £53bn in 2015/16 and £24bn by 2016/17.
12:38 The Speaker, for a second time, stating the chancellor's Statement must be heard. This could be a testing time indeed for the chancellor.
12:35 Plenty of unrest from the opposition, and looks of shock on their faces as Osborne says the last government have left it to the current government to sort out this mess, as he calls it.
12:34 If the rest of Europe heads into recession it may be difficult to prevent one following here in the UK, the chancellor says. David Cameron looking rather stern over the chancellor's shoulder.
12:30 Here we go then, Chancellor Osborne has begun his speech, highlighting the fact he will do all he can to protect Britain from the current debt storm. "This country has the will to live within its means and keep interest rates low."
12:24 “You cannot rebuild the economy by dumping skilled and experienced workers on the scrapheap, but in the run up to Christmas that is exactly what’s happening in a mirror image of the industrial carnage under Margaret Thatcher. RMT wants protection of the jobs of those in work and a guaranteed future for the millions who would immediately benefit from a programme of public works not seen since the Second World War," RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said.
12:18 George Osborne has finally left the Treasury, which means we are now just a few minutes away from the Autumn Statement, where many are predicting he will have to pull out all of the stops to ease the worries of the nation.
12:10 One view on the leaked segments of the Statement is that had they been saved until today they would have been eclipsed by the bad news that is to come. So better to get them out in the public domain before the doom and gloom comes, according to Nick Robinson, political editor at the BBC
12:09 “Any form of stimulus to help plug the funding gap to SME's is welcome. We await to see if this is a game changer on easing the credit problems for businesses and whether it will help fuel M&A activity which, when compared to pre- 2008 levels, is still very much stagnant," Nick McCarthy, Senior Associate in the Corporate Department of Fox Williams LLP, said.
12:02 Retailers have made their voice heard ahead of the Statement, calling for VAT to be cut back to 17.5% to ease the pressure on consumers.
12:00 Not long to go now, and there seems to be a degree of annoyance that several of the key points have been leaked to the media before the actual announcement. Commons Speaker John Bercow said the House should hear before the media.
11:50 At a press briefing from Downing Street the following has been said: "Our plan is to ensure we keep Britain safe from the sovereign debt crisis and we will do what is necessary to meet our fiscal target."
11:45 We already know that there will be a rise in the bank levy, which will be the third inside a year, due to not enough money having been raised.
11:25 “The more the government can do to incentivise and encourage small and medium businesses to create jobs, such as a national insurance holiday for training of staff, the sooner we will see a return to growth. This support would be vital to develop the skills of their personnel which would increase productivity, competitiveness and growth," Liz Field, CEO of The Financial Skills Partnership said.
11:18 Feel free to get involved with the conversation by tweeting us, @FreshBusiness with your views on matters.
11:15 "“Small businesses are the 99 percent in the UK, and it is they that will bring the UK out of recession. The £10bn announced over the weekend is a positive boost, but it is not enough — small businesses need more affirmative action and support, both financial and non-financial, to really make things work," Saif Bonar, UK manager of Freelancer.co.uk, said.
11:00 Chancellor Osborne has left 11 Downing Street, with grey skies looming over London matching the mood of many ahead of the statement.
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