November 22nd 2023.
Jeremy Hunt has made an announcement today that will come as a relief to many Brits and businesses in the run up to the festive season. The Chancellor has said that alcohol duty will remain frozen until August of next year. This means that beer, wine, and spirits levies will stay the same, while pubs and bars will have their business rate holiday extended by 75%.
This news comes as a welcome surprise to those still struggling with the cost of living crisis. Mr Hunt spoke of the decision to freeze the duty, saying that it was possible thanks to better than expected borrowing numbers. He said that he had listened to the "defenders of the Great British pint" and that he wanted to ease the pressure on people's wallets.
The decision has, however, been criticised by some as a Tory attempt to improve their current poor poll ratings. The government had set a target of keeping annual borrowing to below 3% of GDP in five years, but the public sector borrowing figures have shown that between April and October, it was £98 billion - £22 billion more than the same time last year.
Alongside the freeze to alcohol duty, Mr Hunt announced a cut to National Insurance for 28 million employed and self-employed workers, and an increase in the living wage to £11.44 per hour. This is a rise of more than a pound for three million of the lowest-paid workers, which would be worth £380 a year for those earning more than £50,000.
The Treasury also promised to "turbocharge economic growth in the UK" and cut taxes while continuing to bring down inflation. Sadly, there has been a cut in benefit payments for hundreds of thousands of people with mobility and health issues across the UK, unless they can work from home. A leading disability charity has warned that this risks punishing disabled people who may not have the support to find work.
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