by Jack Hudson
Hammond had to walk a tough political and economic tightrope in this Autumn Budget. Brexit loomed large over this budget as it does every day at Westminster, putting Hammond under pressure to provide money to deal with Brexit issues and to save money that may be needed to deal with its repercussions.
On top of this Hammond’s more moderate stance on Brexit issues has led to resentment from Brexiteer colleagues, who could very easily mobilise against him if he were to slip up. Economically, the problem of productivity is becoming a more and more serious issue that needed to be addressed. Despite the lack of leeway Hammond had, he also needed to respond to mounting pressure since the election for increased public spending. On top of this, the budget came with the news that expectations for economic growth have been lowered. Ultimately, Hammond simply could not afford to make a mistake, as he had on tax for the self-employed in the spring budget, that would have added to this government’s string of disasters. A boring budget would perhaps be a goal to aim for.
This political drama may seem far removed from the everyday, but nonetheless the budget does impact the lives of ordinary people.
What the budget means for students:
- Abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers of homes under £300,000.
- More money invested into the technological fund, aiming to advance things such as 5G.
- A new £1.7 billion cities fund, from which cities such as Cardiff could apply for funding.
- £1.2 billion extra funding for the Welsh government, and growth deals for north and mid Wales.
- The Severn Bridge toll will be abolished, making journeys back to Uni cheaper for students from the South of England.
Major announcements included some extra funds for the NHS in England, new money for dealing with the Grenfell tower tragedy and £3 billion for Brexit preparation.
While none of these policies, are likely to cause young voters to flock to the Tories in droves, they will have real everyday effects. In politics, this budget is symbolic of the momentous changes that have taken place in the last few years. The idea of balancing the books seems to have been quietly abandoned, and the Tories now simply seek to stay afloat through the Brexit process. However, this has not meant the pressure from the Labour party for increased public spending has reduced. In fact, it has increased as shown by Jeremy Corbyn’s aggressive and at times emotional response in his statement after the budget. Hammond may have weathered the storm this week, but the political waves that threatened to sink him have not been calmed.