68 pages long, carrying the proposed government spending and expenditure regarding all sectors of the economy, affecting all 65,511,098 people in the UK; The Spring Budget 2017. But how does it affect us?
For starters, the UK economy is forecasted to grow by 2% in 2017 despite concerns that Brexit uncertainty could harm growth. For us, this may mean increased employment and higher real wages. Secondly, the government aims to cut borrowing and stabilise public finances in an attempt to reduce the budget deficit. For us, these austerity measures may result in a lack of funding towards the provision of public services.
Certain public services however, are to benefit. Adult social care is projected to receive £2 billion investment from the government which, along with the £425 million investment in the NHS, should help councils provide higher quality social care and help ease pressure on the NHS. If you’re injury prone like me, you may be interested to know that £100 million of this funding will go to A&E departments to help patients get to primary care faster; hopefully you’ll be in with a chance of waiting less than 4 hours following your intoxicated Friday night fall.
Or maybe not. Because the Spring Budget 2017 could limit your purchasing power regarding booze. As of Monday, your St. Patrick’s Day pint of Guinness will increase by 2p as the duty on alcohol rises in line with inflation. Wine, unfortunately even Barefoot, will increase by 8p and for all vodka-lemonade lovers, your litre bottle of vodka will increase by 40p. On the upside, it’s looking optimistic for pubs, whose landlords are getting a business rate tax break.
The chancellor also spoke of ‘new ways to protect consumers’. What does that mean for us? Hopefully, it will prevent us from being charged unexpectedly when a subscription is renewed or a free trial ends, so all those free trials you signed up to in Fresher’s (Amazon Prime, Graze etc.) won’t suddenly start charging you but will make terms and conditions clearer so you’re more aware that that will be the case.
Females, where did the budget stand regarding us? Hammond has proposed funding equalling £30m to raise awareness of the Representation of the People Act during its 100th anniversary next year, help women get back to work after time off and combat violence and abuse against girls.
An aspect of the budget which may be deeply felt by students even more so than the increased prices of alcohol, is the new sugar tax on drinks which the budget has set out. The sugar tax is set at 18p per litre for the main band which includes drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100ml and 24p for drinks in the higher bands with over 8g per 100ml with the price of a can of Red Bull expected to cost an extra 8p.
Moving onto the more important aspects in our life than alcohol, where does the budget stand on higher education? Part-time students and doctoral students will benefit as, from 2018, they will be offered maintenance loans. Furthermore, £300m will be devoted to creating 1,000 new PhD placements in science, technology, economics and mathematics students. Perhaps of interest to engineering and science students is Hammond’s goals to improve training opportunities in science and technology through £500m investment in artificial intelligence, electric vehicles and robotics and £270 million to launch the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
Whilst some complained of the ‘mostly silence’ regarding students in the 2017 Spring Budget, especially considering the £360m gap in maintenance support since education maintenance allowance was cut, there are winners and losers in the budget and I believe that the 2017 Spring Budget has struck a balance between businesses and citizens whilst ensuring economic stability and the restoration of public finances are at the forefront of all spending.
By Chloe Pryce
Photo from: (lingerieinsight.com)