British Chancellor Unveils Mini-Budget to Tackle Runaway Inflation
"This government is on the side of the British people," he insisted.Kwarteng revealed the cost of the energy aid schemes would be around ?60 billion — half as much as earlier predicted, adding: "we expect the cost to come down as we negotiate new, long term energy contracts with suppliers."As expected, Kwarteng pledged help for businesses as well as domestic energy users.He said to protect energy firms from wildly-fluctuating market prices, an "energy markets finance scheme" in conjunction with the Bank of England would offer "emergency liquidity" to energy firms.Said the independence of the Bank of England was "sacrosanct" — but that he had weekly conversations with the government.Promising to reverse the looming recession predicted by the central bank, Kwarteng said the government would "turn this vicious cycle of stagnation into a virtuous cycle of growth."Workers and BossesCondemning ongoing strikes by "militant" trade unions on the railways and other public services, Kwarteng announced legislation to force trade unions to put all management pay offers to a ballot of their members.And he validated reports that benefit claimants will have their payments reduced if they "don’t fulfil their job search commitments".Confirming the mooted lifting of the cap on bankers' bonuses, Kwarteng said in justification: "We need global banks to create jobs here, invest here, and pay taxes here in London, not Paris, not Frankfurt, not New York." And he announced that his predecessor Rishi Sunak's tax hikes would be reversed. The rise in corporation tax from 19 to 25 per cent, which was set to come in next year, will be cancelled. And the 1.25 per cent increase in National Insurance, the social security tax, will be reversed starting from November 6.
"We will have the lowest rate of corporation tax in the G20," Kwarteng boasted.Those tax rises were imposed to pay for clearing the backlog in the National Health Service caused by the COVID-19 lockdown, and for reforms to elderly care. And in another bonus for the highest-paid, the chancellor announced the abolition of the 45 percent additional rate of income tax on annual earnings over ?150,000 from next April, leaving them paying the 40 percent higher rate for income above ?50,000.But ordinary workers also got an early tax cut, as Kwarteng brought forward the planned reduction in the basic rate from 20 percent by to 19 to April 2023.Cutting Red TapeTurning to Brexit, Kwarteng said the government would automatically "sunset" European Union regulations by the end of 2023, forcing government departments to review all "retained legislation".In a bid to promote tourism, he announced that foreign visitors would enjoy VAT-free shopping in the UK.And in a move that will be popular with middle-income families and the property sector, Kwarteng announced that the threshold for paying the Stamp Duty tax on property purchases would immediately double to ?250,000 for all buyers, and rise from ?300,000 to ?425,000 for first-time buyers.There was good news for pubs and breweries too, as Kwarteng announced a planned rise in the duties on beer, cider, wine and spirits will be cancelled.And he said the "draught relief" on sales of beer would be extended to cover larger kegs of over 20 litres — a move intended to help Britain's thousands of small artisanal breweries.