Thoughts on the Autumn Budget

The Autumn Budget of the British Government is an annual budget set by HM Treasury for the upcoming financial year. During which, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, updates Members of Parliament on the government’s spending plans.

On 29th October, the Chancellor of the Exchequer stood outside Number 11 Downing Street, red briefcase in hand, before heading to parliament to discuss the 2018 budget. This budget was a historical one as it is the final budget before Brexit, and the United Kingdom removes itself from the European Union.

The budget announcements will affect each individual, business and organisation uniquely, and has thus generated a lot of opinions and thoughts. Here are what some of our members had to say.

Royal College of Nursing

Dame Donna Kinnair, Acting RCN Chief Executive, said:

“The extra £650 million for social care is a step in the right direction but, in truth, those caring for vulnerable people will know that this amount barely touches the sides.

“The current funding gap for social care is estimated to be £2 billion by 2020 – we need cold hard cash to follow the forthcoming social care green paper and other future proposals.

“Philip Hammond is to be commended for not raising the spectre of regionalised public sector pay as rumours last week suggested. Frontline nurses and care workers defeated this six years ago as a fundamentally unfair move that exacerbates shortages, rather than fix them.”

In response to reports that this money will be used for schools and hospital A&E departments to have dedicated mental health teams, Donna added:

“This will go some way towards putting physical and mental health services on an equal footing – as long as the extra money is ring-fenced to prevent it being diverted to ease crises at NHS trusts as another tough winter approaches.

“While it makes sense to set up closer links between schools, social services and the NHS, around 5,000 mental health nurses have left the health service since 2010, so it’s difficult to see how this vision will be realised without a sufficient, well-trained nursing workforce.

“Making mental health nursing an attractive career and retaining experienced mental health staff must become a priority to ensure no-one with a mental health problem is left behind.”

Royal Academy of Engineering

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“Recent budgets have made welcome strides towards the government’s ambitious target of increasing investment in R&D in the UK from the current 1.7% of GDP to 2.4% by 2027, which is vital for increasing the number of high-value jobs, and driving economic growth.

“Yesterday’s allocation of £1.6 billion of investment in science and innovation, focused particularly on new and emerging engineering technologies such as quantum computing and industrial digitalisation, is an encouraging move in support of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

“However, there remains much to do to set the UK firmly on a trajectory to reach the government’s 2.4% target. Recent Academy research with industry leaders has revealed that areas such as support for late-stage development and demonstrators and the potential for public procurement spend to drive innovation have been overlooked. Government must address these issues if the UK is to continue to compete successfully in the global market.”

Royal Institute of British Architects

RIBA President, Ben Derbyshire said:

“The Chancellor’s warnings around a ‘no deal’ Brexit has overshadowed the announcements made today and reflects the grave consequences that this would have on our economy including our world-leading architecture sector.

That said, I welcome confirmation of the removal of the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap for local authorities. This predicted £4.6bn boost has the potential to enable ambitious councils to deliver new, affordable homes. The RIBA and its members will continue to work with the Government and local authorities to promote quality design in the delivery of new housing. The end of PFI will be welcomed by many RIBA members – I hope that the government will now look more closely at how the public sector procures new buildings to ensure that we learn the lessons of PFI and put quality and real value for money at the heart of the process.

I am pleased to see the Chancellor’s recognition of Sir Oliver Letwin’s final recommendations on reforming the housing market, which positively references the RIBA’s newly published report, ‘Ten characteristics of places where people want to live’. I hope the Letwin Review report will help inform how the Government spend the promised £675 million future High Streets Fund.”

Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Chair of the English Pharmacy Board Sandra Gidley said:

“With additional funding already announced for the health service, the key question is how this will be allocated to implement the NHS Long-Term Plan.

“Supporting public health and prevention, investing in education and training, and ensuring patients and the NHS receive the most benefit from medicines must be prioritised.

“Community pharmacy owners may welcome future support around business rates, but will no doubt be looking for further progress to make the most of the community pharmacy network to improve patient care.

“Additional investment in mental health is welcome but this should also be targeted at support for people before they reach crisis point.

“As the third largest health profession, pharmacists working across the NHS can play a key role in closing the gap between people’s physical and mental health.”

Royal Society of Chemistry

Helen Pain, Deputy Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said:

“I broadly welcome the chancellor’s announcement that an additional £1.6 billion will be invested in research and development. The Royal Society of Chemistry calls on government to ensure that investment in science is balanced effectively to support fundamental, curiosity-driven research that advances knowledge as well as challenge-driven research.

“The one-off capital investment announced for ‘little extras’ in schools will not address long-term issues facing the teaching workforce. The government must act to ensure teaching staff feel valued and are retained, by improving working conditions such as more manageable workloads, better access to subject-specific professional development and opportunities for flexible working.”

“I welcome the Government’s commitment to spend 2.4% of GDP on crucial research and development through which chemistry will play its part in improving human health and safeguarding the environment. It is vital that this is invested effectively in a balance of research, including ground-breaking fundamental or ‘discovery’ research as well as applied and challenge-driven research.

“As the UK leaves the EU, it is vital that the right arrangements are in place for scientific collaboration and cooperation, including mobility for scientists. While the chancellor has announced £150m for fellowships to attract the brightest talent to the UK, to maintain the UK’s leading position in the chemical sciences, we need to see continued participation in the EU Science and Innovation Framework Programmes; easy movement of scientists between the EEA and the UK and continued close collaboration with the European Chemicals Agency.

Royal Town Planning Institute

Richard Blyth, RTPI Head of Policy, said:

“The Chancellor’s fiscal measures to support small retailers and support for local councils in England to help rejuvenate town centres and high street are welcome, but we need to be cautious about making it easier for empty shops to be turned to residential use.

“Permitted developments rights – whether it is to convert shops to residential use or adding storeys to buildings – do not have a track record of producing quality development and we need to be cautious about their use.

“There are welcoming boosts to England’s Housing Infrastructure Fund and Transforming Cities Fund, and a £8.5 million of resource support for parishes to allocate or permission land for homes could be potentially useful to create the homes that people want.

“But the critical state of local planning resources, a key RTPI concern, has not been adequately addressed, nor is our call for councils to be able to recover 100% of planning administrative costs heeded.”

Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation

Matthew Lugg, President, CIHT said:

“CIHT welcome the acknowledgement by the Chancellor that investing in infrastructure is key to boosting the UK’s economy. We at CIHT have long called for more certainty of funding and the announcement around RIS2 helps towards providing the consistency that our industry needs.’

“We are pleased to see the acknowledgement of a need to invest in our local road network with the additional £420 million made available for local highway authorities. CIHT believe much more needs to be done in this area and we should be moving to using preventative measures including whole-life asset management.”

Ultimately there were both winners and losers when it came to the 2018 budget.

Some of the winners include:

  • Maths teachers – maths teachers have been pledged £27 million across 3000 schools, with an additional £600 for every additional pupil who takes A Levels or core maths
  • First time homebuyers as stamp duty is to be abolished on properties up to £300,000
  • Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire as Kensington and Chelsea council will get an extra £28 million for mental health services and regeneration support
  • Taxpayers as the basic tax threshold will be raised to £12,500 and £50,000 for upper rate taxpayers

Losers include:

  • From next April, diesel vehicles that do not meet the latest standards will go up by one tax band. The chancellor said the money raised would fund a £220 million clean air fund
  • From 6pm on budget day, rates on all tobacco products will increase by 2% above inflation until the end of this parliament. Hand-rolling tobacco will increase by an additional 1%.
  • Those who voted remain in the Brexit referendum, as Philip Hammond confirmed the government would be putting aside an extra £3 billion for Brexit costs

In light of the 2019 Brexit deadline and the fact that government still remain unsure whether we will have a no-deal Brexit, the budget was relatively tame, allowing the Chancellor some room to contend with the consequences of the UK’s exit from the European Union. So in summary, if anything, the budget lacked the stability and predictability that the population wants/needs, but this was expected.



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