UK Budget – £60m to shorten rail journeys between Manchester and Leeds

 As widely leaked, George Osborne today confirmed that the Government will spend £80m building Crossrail 2. More significantly to those of us from Manchester and the North this is to be in addition to spending of £60m on HS3 aimed at electrifying the line and cutting journey times between Leeds and Manchester by half an hour.

In other Budget news:

• Fuel duty will be frozen for a sixth year in a row. 

• The tax free personal allowance will increase to £11,500 next year, in excess of the £11,000 planned. The higher 40pc rate threshold will increase to £45,000.

• Duty on beers, spirits and the majority of ciders will be frozen.
• Corporation tax will be cut to 17pc by 2020, from 20pc now.

• Capital gains tax slashed from 28pc to 20pc for top rate taxpayers, and from 18pc to 10pc for basic rate taxpayers.

• New threshold for small business rate relief will increase from £6,000 to £15,000, and higher rate will be increased also. Business rates will also be linked to CPI, the official measure of inflation which has historically been lower than the RPI rate rates are currently linked to.

• Tax on North Sea oil is being effectively abolished, and this change will be backdated, effective from the start of the year. However, this tax already brought in practically nothing.

• The Chancellor will introduce a sugar levy on the soft drinks industry, assessed by volume and introduced in April 2018. Some of the proceeds will fund school sports.

• Extra funding to mean that every primary and secondary school will be in the process of becoming an academy by 2022.

• A quarter of secondary schools will be able to opt into offering a longer school day from September 2017.

• Government will look at teaching maths to 18 for all pupils. 

• The ISA limit will be raised to £20,000 from around £15,000.

• New Lifetime ISAs for those under 40, offering £1 from the government each year for every £4 saved.

• £700m will be spent on flood defences, paid for by a 0.5pp insurance premium tax increase.

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