2. The economy is starting to pick up and there’s more jobs to go around.
It’s now five years since the recession began and Britain’s economy is finally starting to pick up. The independent Office of Budget Responsbility reckons there will be an extra 400,000 jobs created this year.
3. But George Osborne’s original deficit reduction target will be missed by three years.
The deficit is the amount that the government spends against the amount that it brings in. George Osborne had originally pledged to eliminate the deficit by the 2014/15 financial year, but the Office of Budget Responsibility now reckons it will take another three years - Britain’s government will be earning more than it spends by 2017/18.
4. The prospect of a balanced budget is a triumph for the chancellor.
But that’s hardly enough to start denting Britain’s national debt, which is still growing and will pass £1.5 trillion in 2018/19.
The UK will spend over £75 billion a year to pay the interest on this debt, built up during previous years where the government spent more than it earned.
5. The state pension will rise by £2.95 a week from April, meaning pensioners will be one of the big winners of the coalition government.
Old people vote and pensioners are more likely to vote Conservative. Pensions are pretty hard for politicians to cut – do you want thousands of angry old people with time on their hands shouting at you?
6. Wealthy foreigners who own expensive property will be hit by a new tax.
Capital Gains Tax – which is paid on the profit made from property bought for investment reasons – currently only applies to Britons.
Now foreign nationals who own houses in the UK will have to cough up. There’ll be a lot of angry people in Mayfair tonight.
7. Fuel duty frozen will be frozen, meaning it hasn’t gone up under the coalition.
Credit that one to Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP for Harlow, who’s consistently made life awkward for Osborne when he considered raising the tax on petrol.
Labour had intended fuel duty to keep rising. But the coalition parties will be able to go into the next election saying it’s stayed the same for half a decade.
8. Energy bills will fall by around £50 a year, with the government picking up the bill.
The government has transferred the cost of some green taxes from consumer bills. Rather than charge users directly the taxpayer will pick up the tab.
So your bill may be less but ultimately Britons are still paying through taxation.
9. Free school meals for all children up to the age of seven.
This is a Liberal Democrats victory which they demanded after the chancellor decided to spend £600 million on tax break for married couples.
Unfortunately they failed to consider that many schools do not have suitable kitchens to provide the meals, meaning money will have to be spent upgrading them.
10. Total spending on welfare benefits will be capped by parliament.
From 2015 there will be a fixed welfare budget, approved by parliament. The chancellor will have to come to parliament and explain themselves if total spending on payments such as housing benefit goes higher than this.
Jobseeker’s allowance – which goes up when the economy is doing badly – will be excluded from this cap.
11. The limit on the number of UK university students has been dropped.
Students at most UK universities pay tuition fees which are then topped up by the government. To make sure the government doesn’t spend too much money it currently imposes a limit on the number of students.
This is going to be dropped.
12. Social housing that’s worth a lot of money can be sold to buy more, cheaper properties.
Councils will be able to offload expensive properties if they can invest it in other homes. There’s also a billion pounds of government loans to ensure northern housing projects get underway.
Social housing tenants will also get priority to move if they have a job offer elsewhere - the idea being that you shouldn’t be blocked from having a job for fear of losing your house.
13. But there’s also confirmation that house prices are expected to go through the roof.
Growing economy + limited housing supply = house price growth. The independent forecast is for price rises of 5.2 per cent in 2014 and 7.2 per cent in 2015. Good luck getting any home at all.