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McDonnell: Chancellor may sell assets to plug budget hole

George Osborne is “desperately trying to plug a hole in the budget” and is considering selling off assets such as Channel 4 and the Land Registry to do so, Labour has warned.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said he was concerned by the potential loss of control of essential public services because of the need to reform tax credits.

Tax credits will be a central feature of Wednesday’s Autumn Statement. Mr McDonnell said he believes the Chancellor will “pull back a bit” from his original plans but was worried the burden will be shifted onto other services and vulnerable people.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, Mr McDonnell said: “He’s desperately trying to plug a hole in the budget that he’s created himself, and to dig him out of that hole he’s no longer selling off the family silver, this is the furniture that’s going.”

Mr McDonnell also said the Chancellor had not delivered on his promises to tackle debt and his proposals were usually more “political stunts” than sound economics.


Cloud and rain in the west, brighter start in the east

Temperatures will reach 11 to 12C on Wednesday. Credit: ITV Weather

Cloud and outbreaks of rain and drizzle will affect western parts of the UK throughout the day.

However, it will be a much brighter, drier start in the east with lengthy sunny spells for many.

Into the afternoon cloud and rain will move into central and eastern parts with the best of the brightness in the far south east.

Winds will be gusty along western and eastern coasts as maximum temperatures reach 11 to 12C.

Chancellor to outline plans to build 400,000 new homes

The measures will include building 200,000 new starter homes. Credit: PA

The Chancellor is expected to outline plans to build 400,000 new homes in England during his Autumn Statement on Wednesday.

George Osborne will pledge to "turn generation rent into generation buy" through the largest affordable housebuilding programme in more than 30 years.

The measures will include 200,000 new starter homes with a 20% discount for first-time buyers under 40 and 135,000 Help to Buy shared ownership homes.

The Government will also help create 10,000 homes that will be available to rent at around 20% below the market rent to allow tenants to save for a deposit, as well as 8,000 specialist homes for older residents and people with disabilities.

Mr Osborne is expected to say: "In the end, spending reviews like this come down to choices about what your priorities are. And I am clear: in this Spending Review, we choose housing. Above all, we choose homes that people can buy."


Brussels schools and metro to reopen amid security alert

Brussels has been in lockdown for several days. Credit: Reuters

Schools and the metro are expected to reopen in Brussels on Wednesday, despite the extension of a maximum security alert.

With troops and armed police patrolling the streets of the Belgian capital, Belgian authorities have charged a fifth person with terror offences relating to the attacks that killed 130 people in the French capital on November 13.

The metro system, schools, shopping malls, museums, cinemas and many restaurants have been closed in Brussels for several days after the alert level was raised to the highest of four grades.

A security alert in the capital city has been extended until Monday.

Brussels' main Christmas fair, which attracts around a million people a year, is due to open on November 27. Authorities are to decide on Thursday whether it can be opened.

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