In his final budget before Brexit, Phillip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, declared: “Britain is open for business.”
The Budget 2018 set out the government’s plan to build a stronger, more prosperous economy, building on the recent Spring Statement and last year’s Budget.
During a budget that asserted that “the era of austerity [is] coming to an end,” The Chancellor delivered what he called “a Budget for Britain’s future.” The Chancellor put the digital age, the productivity challenge and a commitment to the NHS at the top of his agenda.
Some of the key pledges made by Chancellor Hammond included: the National Living Wage will increase to £8.21; NHS funding will increase, including more spending for mental health; and extra investment in defence spending to boost cyber capabilities.
Highlights for the logistics and transport industry were:
- An additional £500m set aside to prepare for a no-deal Brexit
- Extra £420m promised to repair potholes
- Support for the British High Street, including a £675m Future High Streets Fund
- Fuel duty frozen for the ninth consecutive year
- The new 26-30 railcard will be available across the network by the end of the year
- £30 billion to improve roads
- Increasing funding to help departments to prepare for Brexit to over £4 billion
- Further changes to the apprenticeship levy to support employers
- A further £37 million to support the development of Northern Powerhouse Rail
- Transforming Cities fund to increase to £2.4 billion
- A new East West Rail company has been established to accelerate the delivery of the central railway section between Cambridge and Bedford
- £770 million to improve transport infrastructure in cities
- Short-haul APD rates for 2020-21 will not rise, remaining at the same level they have been since 2012
- Increase in UK Export Finance’s direct lending facility by up to £2bn
- £1.6bn of new investments to support modern Industrial Strategy
- Opening the use of e-passport gates at airports - currently available to people from Europe - to those from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan