This week saw Chancellor Philip Hammond’s hotly-anticipated budget announcements, in a speech including uncomfortable jokes about cough sweets and Top Gear. The main focus of the budget revolved around housing, duties and transport.
For example, white cider fans will be unhappy to note that duty on such drinks will be increased via new legislation. It will, however, be frozen on beer, wine, spirits and most ciders.
On higher education, despite the possibility of new and positive changes, there was nothing of note. For many, this is unsurprising as the Conservatives did not make any concerted effort to recruit the votes of students in the most recent general election, and this was unlikely to change in the budget.
The only information in the 80-page booklet about universities came under ‘previously announced policy decisions,’ including information that had already been released.
It made no mention of the reinstatement of maintenance grants that was hinted at in September by government officials. Instead, it simply includes the mention of spending pertaining to the freezing of tuition fees in September 2018 and the raising of the tuition fee loans repayment threshold to £25,000.
On the bright side for frugal young people, there will be a new ‘millennial’ railcard for all those struggling with ever-increasing train prices. The standard young persons railcard that is currently for 16-25 year olds offers ⅓ off train fares. That age will now be increased to 30, begging the question of what a ‘young person’ is.
In the budget, the government claim it ‘will increase the number of journeys taken,’ however it does seem to be too small a change for young people worried about rising costs.
In housing, removal of stamp-duty for first time buyers means house prices will be marginally cheaper. The government has intended this for young people, in their budget claiming it will ‘help young people buy their first home.’
However, as most young people cannot actually afford a house at all, it may seem irrelevant. A £300k house will now be £5k cheaper, which is great if someone can, at first, afford a 300k house; something that seems unattainable after leaving university with over £50k debt. Additionally, the Office for Budget Responsibility has said that it will help owners rather than first-time buyers.
This year’s budget reveal can be argued as a success, following last year’s speedy turn-around on proposed higher taxes for the self-employed. Other key information in the budget included £28m for the Kensington and Chelsea council to provide counselling and regeneration efforts for Grenfell Survivors; a shorter waiting time for Universal Credit payments; £2.8bn extra funding for NHS England and £3bn set aside for Brexit.