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Here Are The 6 Main Things In The 2017 Budget

Self-employed people should expect to pay more tax, and there's a bit of extra money for social care, selective schools, and technical education.

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Philip Hammond gave his first and last spring budget – he's moving it to autumn from this year – on Wednesday. He spoke for about 55 minutes, delivering a speech heavy on digs at Jeremy Corbyn's Labour opposition but light on surprises. Here are the important takeaways from what the chancellor announced.

1. Self-employed people will have to pay more tax from next year.

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People in employment pay both income tax and national insurance directly from their pay packets. Self-employed people – which includes workers in the new "gig economy" – pay slightly less national insurance than employed people, partly because they get fewer benefits: no sick pay, no parental leave, and (until recently) worse treatment on state pensions.

Hammond said that because self-employed people now get more of the benefits employed people do, they should pay more national insurance, so is raising the rate from 9% to 10% next year, and to 11% the year after (workers in employment pay 12%).

This will raise around £2 billion over four years – but could be politically risky, as it will raise taxes on lots of people on fairly low incomes (from £16,000 or so a year up), and focuses on a group that Conservatives generally support.

2. Small-business owners will pay more tax too.

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Another quirk of the UK tax system is that it taxes people who own a business that employs only themselves differently to other self-employed people ("sole traders"), because they can pay themselves through dividends and other means, which are taxed differently to income.

As a bid to address this, Hammond has reduced the allowance on dividends – the amount you can claim before paying tax – to £2,000. This will raise almost £3 billion in three years – but is another tax hike on small businesses, so could again give the chancellor political trouble.


3. There is some extra funding to help tackle social care.

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Local councils have been campaigning for extra money to help them handle social care, particularly for the elderly, which is struggling due to cuts to councils and an ageing population, putting extra pressure on the NHS.

The Budget included an extra £2.4 billion over three years to help local authorities manage the situation, with the money being heavily front-loaded: £1.2 billion next year, £800 million the year after, and £400 million in 2019-20. This will be welcomed by council leaders, but is less money than many were hoping for.

4. There's money to build new free schools – including ones that will select students with entrance exams.

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The government is sticking with its controversial plans to open the first new grammar schools in the UK in decades, announcing just over £1 billion of funding over five years to open new free schools, including some which will select by academic ability.

Hammond made much in his speech of making these accessible to all, also announcing a programme to extend free school transport for lower-income students for selective schools – but this amounts to just £20 million over four years.

5. There's new funding to improve technical education in the UK.

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As briefed to newspapers ahead of the Budget, Hammond announced increased funding to reform technical education in the UK, spending around £900m over four years on the plans.

This will fund measures including boosting teaching hours for vocational courses, funding work placements, and rolling these into "T-levels" – an A-level equivalent – for 16- to 19-year-olds on these courses.

6. And not much else.

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Most other measures discussed by the chancellor during the Budget either gave specifics on money he'd announced before, or didn't cost very much. The government hopes to recoup some extra money through new measures to tackle tax avoidance and evasion, and will spend a small amount of money on the NHS to introduce GP triage to more A&E departments. There's £20 million extra for funding against domestic violence, and £5 million to mark the centenary of UK women getting the vote – and not much else.

There were zero mentions of "Brexit" in Hammond's speech.

Overall, the chancellor hasn't changed the pace of austerity: There are still big, preplanned cuts to lots of departments coming in the next few years, and the freeze on working-age benefits still remains.

The government will spend £1.7 billion extra next year, £600 million extra the year after, and then recoup it through the taxes on self-employed people in the following three years. Hammond promised an unflashy Budget, and delivered one.

TL;DR: There's a bit of extra money for social care, free schools, and technical education – but self-employed people are going to have to pay for it.

James Ball is a special correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London. PGP: here

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