Live updates


  1. National

Watch live: Osborne unveils 2015 budget

Chancellor George Osborne is delivering his sixth annual budget in the House of Commons today.

And with reports suggesting the government has seen a £6 billion windfall, he is expected to announce a number of tax cuts designed to boost the Tories' pre-election campaign.

This broadcast has now finished.

Regional unemployment falls by 30,000

Unemployment in Yorkshire fell by 30,000 in the quarter to January, official figures have revealed.

Credit: Press Association

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a total of 161,000 people were unemployed in the region between November and January.

The region's unemployment rate was 6% and saw a drop of 15.7% during the period.

Nationwide, unemployment has dipped to a near seven-year low after a fall of more than 100,000, while a record number of people are in work.

The jobless total is 1.86 million, the lowest since the summer of 2008 and almost half a million down on a year ago. The jobless rate is now 5.7%, compared to a European Union average of 9.8%.

The number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance fell by 31,000 to 791,200 in February - the 28th consecutive monthly reduction.

The ONS also reported that employment increased by 143,000 in the latest quarter to January to almost 30.1 million, the highest since records began in 1971.

£14 million expected for Sheffield's Olympic Legacy Park

Up to £14 million of funding is expected to be announced for Sheffield's Olympic Legacy Park when George Osborne delivers his new budget later today.

Artist Impression

The money would be used to invest in the park's Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, which is being developed in conjunction with Sheffield Hallam University.

It will feature indoor and outdoor facilities for over 50 researchers to carry out research on physical activity in collaboration with the private sector and based upon the highly successful Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sheffield.

We are delighted that the Government are backing our vision to develop the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world.

– Professor Philip Jones, Sheffield Hallam University Vice-Chancellor


Small airports suffering due to aviation taxes, say MPs

Smaller UK airports are being held back by the existence of the Air Passenger Duty (APD) departure tax, a report by MPs has said.

Small airports in the UK are suffering as a result of airport passenger duty (APD), according to the Transport Committee. Credit: Press Association

The report focuses on smaller airports like Leeds Bradford, Doncaster's Robin Hood and Humberside Airport and says they are at risk of losing out on growth and business, especially if the tax was scrapped in Scotland.

On domestic flights where APD is charged at both ends of the trip, the tax "incentivises airlines and passengers to fly from airports located in other EU member states", said the report from the House of Commons Transport Committee. The MPs said that Northern Ireland was suffering in terms of jobs, growth and connectivity as aviation taxes were higher than in the Republic of Ireland.

The report warned that if APD is scrapped in Scotland - which is a possibility due to the tax being devolved to Holyrood - "airports in England would be subject to a similar competitive disadvantage to that currently experienced in Northern Ireland".<

Plans to exempt children from APD, announced in the autumn statement of 2014, was "a marginal change which did nothing for business travellers and little for smaller airports", the report added.<

The committee said: "We found that APD is the principal threat to the smaller airports sector.

"APD cannot be amended to support people, businesses and regional economies because of the operation of European competition law, while proposals to devolve it to the regions would serve only to spread a patchwork of market distortions across the UK."

Smaller airports drive economic growth. But the smaller airports sector - which is vital to people and businesses in the regions - is limited by APD. Transport ministers must stand up for smaller airports and make the case to the Treasury that APD squeezes jobs, growth and connectivity. The whole country should share the economic benefits of expanded airport capacity. But that will only happen if new capacity includes new domestic flights to airports outside London. The Department for Transport needs to take a proactive approach and ensure that the regions are connected.

– Committee chairwoman Louise Ellman

The report covered around 40 smaller airports ranging in size from Newcastle, which handled 4.4 million passengers in 2013, to Lydd in Kent which handled 1,000.

The past few years have been tough for many of our smaller members. Reducing APD is the single biggest thing that could enable airports to attract new routes and increase their passenger numbers. APD is the highest aviation tax in the world and is increasingly putting the UK at a disadvantage.

– Airport Operators Association chief executive Darren Caplan

Regional airports make a vital contribution to the UK economy by boosting local jobs and providing important domestic and international connectivity. We want to help these airports thrive as part of our long- term economic plan, which is why we launched the Regional Air Connectivity Fund to support more new air routes. We are now assessing bids from airports and airlines for this funding and will soon announce a short list of routes, with a final announcement over the summer. We welcome the publication of the committee's report on smaller airports and we will study their conclusions carefully before responding in due course

– Department for Transport spokesman

Two more charged over finances at Bradford free school

A former director of finance and a former head of department at a flagship free school in Bradford have been charged with fraud offences.

Daud Khan, former finance director at Kings Science Academy is charged with two offences of fraud by abuse of position and three of false accounting.

Shabana Hussain faces one charge of fraud by abuse of position and one of acquiring criminal property. They will appear at Leeds Magistrates’ Court shortly.

Former princial Sajid Hussain Raza was charged last week with three offences of fraud by abuse of position, three offences of false accounting, two offences of obtaining a money transfer by deception, and one offence of fraud by false representation. He will also appear at Leeds Magistrates’ Court shortly.

Load more updates