Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced the UK budget for the year ahead. As a devolved nation, however, some of these announcements do not apply to Scotland as many areas are dealt with separately by the Scottish Government. Affairs that the Scottish Government deal with include health, education and training, local government and tourism.
The chancellor announced in yesterday’s budget that in 2016, the UK was the second fastest growing G7 economy. The UK forecast for growth will also be set to rise from 1.4% to 2%. However, despite an annual inflation rise from 2.3% to 2.4% in 2017-18 there is an expected decrease in following years back to 2.3%, then 2.0%. This will cause a continuing rise in living costs, such as food prices. This will inevitably be an issue for students and their cost of living.
However, a positive announcement for many students, as well as the overall population, is that a further 650,000 people are expected to be in employment by 2021. This is a good prediction for students for when they leave university and begin their search for jobs. The chancellor also pointed out that employment was at a record high and unemployment at a record low.
The Scottish Government will also receive £350 million from Westminster, in addition to the already proposed £800m funds announced last year in the Autumn Statement. With Aberdeen employment being affected by the North Sea oil downturn, the announcement of extra help for the North Sea oil and gas industry was a relief to many. This will help to resolve issues within the industry, increase employment and help recover the housing market.
Duty on beer, cider, wine and spirits will increase with inflation. This will result in adding 2p on a pint of beer, 1p on a pint of cider and 32p on a bottle of gin. Wine will rise by 10p a bottle and a bottle of whisky will go up by 36p. Sugary soft drinks are also to be taxed at 24p per liter as part of plans to reduce obesity.
In terms of women, the government announced that there is a higher proportion of women in the workforce than ever before. Hammond also announced funding of £20m to support the campaign against violence against women and girls. A further £5m will support a project to celebrate 100 years since women gained the right to vote and educate younger people of its significance. £270m will also be invested into new technology including robots and driverless vehicles. Another £16m will be for 5G for mobiles and £200m for local broadband.
Overall, opinions are split on what the budget is to bring for the UK. There was very little mention of Brexit, despite it being one of the biggest economic concerns within the UK. We can only see what the year ahead will bring us and trust that the budget will get us there.