Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Emergency Budget

The Chancellor today delivered his emergency budget, which he dubbed "unavoidable" in a bid to set the tone for a swathe of cuts to public spending and tax increases. The budget will form the backdrop to the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, announced 20 October 2010, which will provide a breakdown of departmental cuts. 
Headline measures in today's budget include:
  • Structural current deficit to be in balance by 2015 and debt to be falling as a percentage share of GDP 
  • Spending cuts will account for 77 per cent of deficit reductions, while 23 per cent from tax rises 
  • From 4 January 2011 VAT will be raised to 20 per cent 
  • The income tax personal allowance will be increased by £1,000 to £7,475 
  • The corporation tax rate will be cut by one per cent per year for four years, from 28 to 24 per cent and the small firms’ rate will be cut to 20 per cent. Capital and investment allowances will be reduced, but this will be delayed until 2012 
  • Capital gains tax to be raised to 28 per cent for higher rate tax payers 
  • A bank balance sheet levy will be introduced from January 2011 to eventually generate over £2 billion annually 
  • From April 2011 the employer national insurance contributions threshold will rise by £21 a week above inflationary rises 
  • No rises in alcohol, tobacco or fuel duty – alcohol and fuel duties, including air passenger duty, to be considered in the autumn 
  • Part of Royal Mail to be sold off to raise investment capital 
  • The government will implement the recommendations of the Dyson review into R&D tax credits and expand the enterprise finance guarantee scheme 
  • The government will publish a White Paper on tackling regional economic differences in Britain later in the summer, followed by a paper on rebalancing the economy of Northern Ireland 
Full Budget document available here.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Select Committee Chairs

MPs made history yesterday, for the first time ever Parliamentarians elected Chairs to the House of Common's influential Select Committees, this will undoubtedly strengthen the ability the of the committees to scrutinise Government. The results have now been announced - see below for the full list.

The following candidates have been elected unopposed as select committee chairs:

The following candidates have been elected as select committee chairs by secret ballot, under the Alternative Vote system:

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

And then there were five...

A one minute silence for the Cumbrian people marked the start of a sombre PMQs today. Nothing of great significance to report from the questioning, as the real drama was going on behind the scenes. 

Diane Abbot's campaign for nomination received a much needed boost this morning, with John McDonnell pulling out of the race. Paul Waugh has an excellent account of how Diane achieved the 33 required nominations at the very last moment. 

So, we now have five Labour leadership candidates: 
  • Rt Hon David Milliband MP
  • Rt Hon Ed Milliband MP
  • Rt Hon Ed Balls MP
  • Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP
  • Diane Abbott MP
Four of which are former special advisers and government ministers, with distinct policy differences yet to be exposed, it should make for an interesting few months of debate.  

Key dates for your calendar: 

Wednesday 8 September: Freeze date for new members to join the Labour Party and be eligible to vote in the leadership election.
Wednesday 22 September: Balloting closes.
Saturday 25 September: Announcement of ballot result.
Sunday 26 September: Labour Conference begins.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Spending Review Framework announced

The Chancellor today set out t Spending Review Framework, which is to conclude in the Autumn. Full details below:
  • require departments to submit their initial plans to deliver their priorities before the Summer Recess and demonstrate that they meet a tough new set of criteria to deliver value for money. The criteria cover questions such as: is the activity being funded essential to the Government’s priorities, does the Government need to fund the activity, and can it be provided more efficiently?
  • start a period of external engagement between the Government and all parts of society including; the private sector, the general public, voluntary/charitable organisations and experts, in order to obtain the best ideas from those most involved in and affected by public services
  • establish a new Star Chamber chaired by the Chancellor and Chief Secretary and drawing on the expertise of other senior Cabinet Ministers to ensure that the Government challenges every department’s spending plans to ensure that they deliver more for less. Other Cabinet Ministers will be considered to join the group, once they have settled their department’s budget. 
  • seek input from the brightest and best individuals in this SR by establishing a Spending Review Challenge Group of experts – both from within Government and outside – to act as independent challengers and champions for departments throughout the process. Their remit will be to think innovatively about the options for reducing public expenditure while balancing priorities.
  • require each Secretary of State to appoint a Minister with specific responsibility for driving value for money across their department, identifying savings opportunities and playing an important role in challenging spending in all areas, including on contracts and programmes.
  • comprehensively examine areas such as: social security, tax credits and public service pensions as part of the process
  • end the previous administration’s complex system of Public Service Agreements that relied too heavily on rigid targets and instead ask departments to publish business plans that show the resources they need to put in place in order to protect key frontline services and deliver on their objectives.
Full details of the framework can be found here

Key Dates
Emergency Budget – June 22, 2010
Summer Recess – House Rises 29 July, 2010 Returns 6 September, 2010