Spending Review: Chancellor scraps tax credit reforms but maintains commitment to £12bn welfare cuts

Chancellor George Osborne today laid out his plans for tax, welfare and government spending as he delivered his Autumn Statement and Spending Review.

Here is a summary of the key points from today's statement:

Tax credit cuts abandoned

George Osborne's planned cuts to tax credits - expected to have adversely hit around three million Britons - will be abandoned completely.

The Chancellor said the major u-turn would be funded by an "improvement in the public finances".

ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship explains the Spending Review and the Chancellor's biggest U-turn yet:

Government still targeting £12bn welfare cuts

Despite abandoning tax credit cuts predicted to save £4 billion, the Chancellor said the government was maintaining its commitment to axe £12 billion from the welfare budget, suggesting that further cuts will fall elsewhere.

He also admitted that the government would breach its own welfare cap in the first year of this parliament, but said it would be met every year afterward.

Osborne plans major boost to home ownership

Promising a doubling of the government's annual housing spending amid a backdrop of cuts to other departments, the Chancellor promised to turn "generation rent into generation buy".

The headline announcement of 400,000 new homes in England was trailed ahead of the announcement, while the Chancellor also promised to extend the existing Right to Buy to allow tenants of five housing associations to buy their own home from midnight.

First-time buyers in London were also promised a new scheme called London Help to Buy - offering those with a 5% deposit an interest-free loan worth up to 40% of the value of a new-build property.

Public land suitable for 160,000 homes will be released, he added, in a bid to stimulate building and tackle the housing crisis.

Osborne said the changes would be partly funded by a 3% increase in Stamp Duty for those buying second homes or buy-to-let properties, effective from April.

Basic state pension to rise to £119.30 per week

Already announced ahead of today's statement was a increase in the basic state pension, reaching £119.30 per week from April 2016.

Budget cuts announced - but police and Foreign Office protected

The Chancellor outlined major cuts to a number of government departments, much of it targeted at spending on Whitehall staff and resources.

The announcements for these administrative budget cuts included:

  • 37% cut to Department of Transport

  • 25% cut to Department of Health

  • 22% cut to Department for Energy and Climate Change

  • 20% cut to Department of Culture, Media and Sport

  • 17% cut to Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

  • 15% cut to Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

  • 14% cut to Department for Work and Pensions

However, in a surprise move, the Chancellor also announced that the police budget would not face any further real terms spending cuts, while the Foreign Office budget would also be protected.

A spending boost on defence and the fast-tracking of £3.8bn NHS funding were already announced before today's statement.

Councils given power to raise council tax to fund social care

In a bid to tackle the gap in funding for elderly social care, the government announced plans to allow councils to raise council tax by 2% to boost their social care budgets.

The measure, predicted by ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship, would add around £30 a year (£2.50 a month) to a typical Band D property, but would be at the discretion of the local authority.

However, as Social Affairs Editor Penny Marshall notes, there are questions over the Chancellor's claim it will raise £2 billion - and whether even that would be enough to breach the gap in funding.

Economic growth forecasts largely unchanged

At the start of his statement, the Chancellor read out the independent Office for Budget Responsibility's (OBR) latest forecasts for the UK economy - which varied only slightly from those given during his Budget in July.

According to the OBR, growth will be as follows:

  • 2.4% this year (unchanged from July's forecast)

  • 2.4% in 2016 (up 0.1 percentage point)

  • 2.5% in 2017 (up 0.1 percentage point)

  • 2.4% in 2018 (unchanged)

  • 2.3% in 2019 (down 0.1 percentage point)

  • 2.3 in 2020 (down 0.1 percentage point)

Britain set to 'be in the black' by 2019/20

The Chancellor's stated aim is to eliminate the budget deficit - currently 3.9% of national income - by the end of this parliament in 2020, and the latest OBR forecasts suggested he was on course to do so.

According to the forecasts, the government will achieve a budget surplus by 2019/20 - put simply, bringing in more in revenues than it spends.

The forecasts for the budget deficit were as follows (minus indicates a budget surplus):

  • 3.9% in 2015/16

  • 2.5% in 2016/17

  • 1.2% in 2017/18

  • 0.2% in 2018/19

  • -0.5% in 2019/20

  • -0.6% in 2020/21