Budget 2021 – what we know so far
Ahead of the Budget on Wednesday we’ve seen some suggestions in the press on what to expect.
We made some clear asks, summarised below.
Based on this weekend’s speculation, we seem no clearer on a definition of levelling up, on the future of the Shared Prosperity Fund and how it will replace EU funding, or on how business support packages could be reintroduced through the winter if Covid cases continue to rise.
However, there have been some clear proposals on a number of the other points we raised in a letter to the Chancellor last month.
One of the main expected changes will be an increase to the national living wage from £8.91 to £9.50 from the 1st of April next year. The apprentice rate and the national minimum wages for younger workers under 23 are also expected to be see and increase on Wednesday.
We’re also expected to see a focus on investment in skills with a £1.6 billion increase in 16-19 education funding, an expansion of T-levels, and a £170 million increase to the apprenticeship budget as well as a more funding for skills bootcamps and to expand the level 3 adult offer.
In terms of transport there’s an expectation that on Wednesday there will be an announcement of funding for train, bus and cycle projects in particular we’re expecting funding to be allocated to the Tees Valley for the upgrades for Darlington and Middlesbrough stations and improved rail connections.
But until we see the detail, we won’t know how much of the commitment for the Tees Valley has been announced previously.
There’s also speculation that the Eastern Leg of HS2 – the section that would travel from Birmingham through Yorkshire and on the North East – could be scaled back. This would be disappointing with existing capacity on the East Coast Mainline is so limited, and when connectivity from our region to other parts of the North and the Midlands remains poor.
We’re still waiting to see about other major transport announcements like Northern Powerhouse Rail.
We’ve also seen some reports of £500 million in funding allocated to create ‘family hubs’ which will give support and advice, the £500 million will also include funding allocated to mental health support services.
Elsewhere, £1.8bn is expected to be allocated for building 160,000 new homes on brownfield sites across the country, along with money for digitising the planning system. It’s uncertain at this stage how this money will be allocated across the country.
There’s also funding expected to promote electric vehicle production in the North East and the midlands, and some funding for regional museums.
We’ll wait to see the full details announced on Wednesday but the focus on skills is positive along with the funding for Darlington and Middlesbrough stations.
The Chamber team will be analysing the Budget tomorrow lunchtime – and we’ll be particularly looking for progress on levelling up, decentralisation, export support, regeneration and Covid support. All of which were missing from this weekend’s leaks.
In the meantime, the Chamber’s full Budget submission is available here: https://www.neechamber.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Chamber-Budget-Letter-to-Chancellor-Sep-21.pdf