Budget 2021 Live: Rishi Sunak to Declare ‘Age of Optimism’ Along with Spending Review | Politics
Hello. Budget Day is always an exciting time in Westminster, but one of the unusual features of today’s statement is that Rishi Sunak will deliver it several weeks after announcing his biggest tax leg by far. The Â£ 12 billion a year health and social care tax unveiled in September was almost certainly bigger than any of the unique tax measures we will hear today.
Another feature of this budget is that it was preceded by an unprecedented number of Treasury pre-briefings. We have already had 19 press releases on what will be in it.
So what is going to make the statement we receive this afternoon meaningful or memorable? There are probably two aspects that will stand out.
First, do not despair, there will be news. This is an expenditure review, as well as a budget, which means we will learn a lot more about departmental spending than in a normal budget. Also, for presentation reasons, the Chancellor will want to have the usual surprise for the deputies, and for the country, at the end of her speech. There is a lot of speculation this morning about what it will be, and on the Today show Andy Burnham, the Labor Mayor of Greater Manchester, suggested it could take the form of a U-turn on the Â£ 20 per week. reduction of universal credit.
Second, the overall story Sunak seeks to tell the country will be as or more important than the multiple announcements about taxes and spending. He presented his first budget in March 2020, but within a week he effectively had to tear it up because of the Covid pandemic and ever since his chancellery has been dominated by the management of this crisis. This will be the first budget that he will write not dominated by the Covid, and in the perspective of a more normal economic environment. It will be a moment of definition. Sunak is posing as a tax conservative, with a photo of Nigel Lawson on display in the study. But he works for a prime minister whose business model is more of a tooth fairy than Milton Friedman, so the budget will have to resolve those tensions.
As Rowena Mason reports in her Overnight Preview, Sunak will take Boris Johnson’s innate boosterism into account in her speech by stating that we are in an era of optimism. Sunak will say:
Today’s budget begins the work of preparing for a new post-Covid economy.
An economy characterized by higher wages, higher skills and increasing productivity.
Strong public services, vibrant communities and safer streets.
An economy worthy of a new era of optimism.
It is the stronger economy of the future.
For millions of people facing the rising cost of living, it may sound like something else.
The cabinet met at 8:30 am this morning, and Sunak briefs his colleagues on the budget. Here is the program for the day.
12h: Boris Johnson takes on Sir Keir Starmer at PMQ.
12:30 p.m .: Rishi Sunak is on budget.
1:30 p.m .: Office for Budget Responsibility publishes economic and fiscal outlook for October 2021
2:30 p.m. BST: Richard Hughes, President of the Office for Budget Responsibility, hosts an OBR Budget Estimates briefing.
I will be writing the blog all day with my colleague, Graeme Wearden. We’ll cover the preparation for the speech, the statement itself, and then focus on the reaction and analysis, and in particular trying to identify any surprises in the fine print that Sunak may have overlooked.