The chancellor has announced the budget for 2023.
The UK will now not enter a technical recession this year, the independent forecasters, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has said.
Inflation will more than halve and reduce to 2.9% by the end of the year, the OBR expects.
Here are the key points:
• As expected, the government is extending the energy price guarantee (EPG) which keeps the average household bill at £2,500 until the end of June by capping the unit price of electricity. The typical bill was due to rise to £3,000 from 1 April. Under the EPG the government effectively caps household costs and reimburses energy companies for the difference between that, and the cost of buying power on wholesale markets.
• The energy rebate scheme – paid direct to customers in six instalments of £66 and £67 a month – has not been extended and will end this month.
• The so-called “prepayment premium”, whereby those using prepayment meters are charged more for their gas and electricity, will be scrapped from July, enabling four million families to save £45 a year on their bills.
• Tax relief of 11p has been announced on draft drinks served in pubs from 1 August – so a pint will be cheaper than in supermarkets.
• An extension of the 5p cut in fuel duty, at a cost of £6bn, has been announced for a year. Fuel duty will also be frozen for the next twelve months.
• As corporation tax on profits over £250,000 is due to rise from 19% to 25% in April, businesses will be able to offset 100% of UK investments against their profits to bring down tax bills. The OBR said it will increase business investment by 3% for every year. Mr Hunt announced the measure for the next three years but intends to make it permanent “as soon as we can responsibly do so”.
• An “enhanced credit” has been introduced for small and medium-sized businesses if they spend 40% or more of their total expenditure on research and development. They can claim credit worth £27 for every £100 spent.
• Defence spending will rise to £11bn over the next two years, exactly what Defence Minister Ben Wallace had requested and more than double what was expected.