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Old prison sell-off to fund nine new prisons

A sell-off of "old, Victorian" prisons will help fund the construction of nine new prisons, George Osborne has announced.

Old Victorian prisons in our cities that are not suitable for rehabilitating prisoners will be sold.

This will also bring long term savings and means we can spend over a billion pounds in this Parliament building nine new modern prisons.

Today, the transformation gets underway with the announcement the Justice Secretary has just made.

I can tell the House that Holloway Prison – the biggest women’s jail in Western Europe – will close.

In the future, women prisoners will serve their sentences in more humane conditions better designed to keep them away from crime.

– George Osborne

Levy to raise £3bn a year for 3m new apprenticeships

A new levy on businesses will help raise £3bn a year for three million new apprenticeships, George Osborne has said.

The rate is set at 0.5 per cent of the employer's paybill - but will only apply to companies with paybills of more than £3m a year.


Osborne limits free childcare support

Thirty hours of free childcare for families with three- and four-year-olds will only be available to parents working more than 16 hours a week and with incomes of less than £100,000, Osborne has announced.

He said this would help make the changes, which mean £10,000 worth of free childcare, "affordable" for the government.

"We will maintain the free childcare we offer to the most disadvantaged two-year-olds," he added.

"And to support nurseries delivering more free places for parents, we’ll increase the funding for the sector by £300m.

"Taken together that’s a £6bn childcare commitment to the working families of Britain."

29% increase in UK Sport budget in arts and culture review

George Osborne has announced a 29 per cent increase in the budget for UK Sport - saying he hoped it would help Britain "go for gold" in the upcoming Rio and Tokyo Olympics.

He told the Commons that one of the "best investments" the government could make was is in the country's "extraordinary arts, museums, heritage, media and sport".

Every £1bn a year in grants adds a quarter of a trillion pounds to the economy, he said.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport's core administration budget will fall by 20 per cent, but money to the Arts Council, national museums and galleries will be increased.

Free museum entry will also remain.

'Tampon tax' cash to be ploughed into charities

The £15m a year raised from the so-called 'tampon tax' will be ploughed into supporting women's charities, George Osborne said.

He vowed that he was "committed" to persuading the EU to allow Britain to scrap VAT on sanitary items - but in the meantime, it would be put to "good use".

The first £5 million will be distributed between the Eve Appeal, SafeLives and Women’s Aid, and The Haven – and I invite bids from other such good causes.

– George Osborne

Small business rates relief regime to be extended

The Chancellor has said the small business rates relief regime is to be extended for another year.

The scheme is estimated to support around 600,000 firms.

Support for aerospace and automotive industries has also been confirmed for the next decade at the current level.


  1. Penny Marshall

More money for social care - but why aren't carers cheering?

I'm watching the Autumn Statement with carers, care managers and elderly residents in a care home in Leeds.

The Chancellor claims the council tax "precept" (or to call a spade a spade, the council tax rise) will raise £2 billion and brink this sector back from the brink of crisis.

He also announced more money will be put into the Better Care Fund as health and social care budgets are increasingly merged.

So why aren't the people I'm with cheering?

There are limits to this solution:

  • Those councils most in need of providing state funded social care will be able to raise less money from a hike in council taxes. So up here in the North there is still a funding crisis. The leader of Bradford Council told me the figures don't work. "The Chancellor is just making this funding crisis a local authority funding crisis - he's passing the buck", Councillor David Green, Labour Leader of the council told me.
  • The Chancellor's figures are contested. The King's Fund does not estimate that anything like £2 billion will be raised.
  • The funding gap is much bigger than £2 billion anyway - it simply isn't enough, say critics.
  • There is no immediate investment to help cover the funding shortfall caused by the New Living Wage

The Chancellor isn't yet sitting down. But no one here is cheering yet.

Quarter of a billion to 'Relieve operation Stack'

The Chancellor has said a quarter of a billion pounds will be put towards "relieving Operation Stack".

Operation Stack has seen long queues of lorries parked on the M20 in Kent during disruption to Eurotunnel services from Folkestone or ferries from Dover.

Construction of HS2 to begin in £61bn transport boost

Construction of the HS2 high-speed railway, linking George Osborne's 'Northern Powerhouse' to the south will begin, thanks to a £61bn boost to transport capital spending, the Chancellor announced.

It represents a 50 per cent increase in the budget - though the Department for Transport's annual budget will fall by 37 per cent.

Other announcements include:

  • The electrification of lines like the Trans-Pennine, Midland Main Line and Great Western can go ahead.
  • London get an £11bn investment in its transport infrastructure.
  • A new quarter of a billion pound investment in facilities in Kent as part of Operation Stack.
  • £300m commitment to cycling
  • Over £5bn on roads maintenance
  • A permanent pothole fund.

Steel and chemical firms to be exempt from green tax

'Energy intensive industries' such as steel and chemicals will be permanently exempted from the cost of environmental tariffs, George Osborne has announced.

He said it would help keep their bills down and keep them competitive.

Meanwhile, a new energy scheme will replace the Energy Company Obligation, which forced larger suppliers to deliver energy efficiency measures to domestic premises. He said that would save an average of £30 a year from the energy bills of 24 million homes.

"Because the government believes that going green should not cost the earth," he said.

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