LiveRecap of Budget 2020 as Rishi Sunak confirms West Yorkshire devolution deal

Richmond MP Rishi Sunak today delivered his first Budget as Chancellor, and confirmed the devolution deal for West Yorkshire would be going ahead.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the House of Commons to deliver his Budget. PA Photo.

Have a look through The Yorkshire Post's live blog, featuring reaction and analysis from our team of reporters, to see how the Budget unfolded.

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Budget 2020 and what it means for Yorkshire

Last updated: Wednesday, 11 March, 2020, 14:51

  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivers speech amid coronavirus concerns and promises £30bn to tackle the crisis
  • Devolution agreement for West Yorkshire is confirmed, worth £1.8b over 30 years
  • Fuel duty will be frozen for another year while £26 billion will be invested in roads,

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Thanks for following our live updates of the Budget announcement.

We'll have lots more reaction on the website throughout the rest of the evening, so make sure you check back to see the latest.

In the meantime, here's the story of how the West Yorkshire devolution deal came to fruition.

Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, said: “I’m delighted we have finally managed to secure a strong deal for West Yorkshire, the biggest per capita devolution deal in the UK so far, and that Bradford has played a leading role in the negotiations.

“The deal gives West Yorkshire access to significant funding and powers over the next 30 years to meet the needs and ambitions of our communities, including better public transport, improved skills, support for business and investment in our heritage while also tackling the climate emergency.  We need to spend the money so that every resident, from Keighley to Kippax, feels the benefit of it."

John McDonnell MP, Labour's Shadow Chancellor, responding to the Budget, said: “We have to work together as a country to overcome the threat from coronavirus, and we pay tribute to the work of experts and NHS workers who are dealing with the crisis.

“But lessons must be learned. After ten years of cuts our health and social care services are utterly ill-prepared to deal with the outbreak, and unfortunately the impact of the crisis is likely to be sharper because of a fundamentally weak economy and the crisis in public services created by actions of Conservative governments over the past ten years."

'Nowhere near enough'

According to IPPR North Director Sarah Longlands, more must be done to “level up” the country.

She said: “A budget that seeks to level up is long overdue, but it is nowhere near enough.    

“For too long, the North has been let down. Too much power is hoarded by Whitehall. Over the last decade that power has been used to impose devastating austerity, which has disproportionately impacted upon the North’s economic and human potential.  

“A levelled-up England is one where all regions, towns and cities can realise their potential. Where inequalities, between and within regions no longer exist, and opportunity and prosperity are open to everyone across the country. To achieve this, we need to rebuild the foundations of our local communities devastated by austerity. That means much more coherent and long-term investment for local education, childcare, skills and health services.

“Most importantly, we need a ‘devolution parliament’ which moves power and decision making closer to the people”

'This is what we're doing for Yorkshire'

A few minutes after Mr Sunak sits down, and here are the main points of the speech for Yorkshire (according to the Government)...

Hope for Bradford's high speed rail dreams?

And there could be good news for city leaders in Bradford who want the high speed Northern Powerhouse Rail project to stop in the city centre.

Up to £500,000 has been promised "to support Bradford to develop plans to maximise the benefits of potential Northern Powerhouse rail connections".

Commenting on the news, city council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said the money will "help us develop a masterplan for Bradford city centre, maximising regeneration opportunities from Northern Powerhouse Rail".

She adds: "This is a significant year for Government to decide which route Northern Powerhouse Rail will take and therefore getting the investment now shows what confidence Government have in the city."

A intriguing announcement for West Yorkshire is that a new British Library of the North will be built in Leeds, as part of the new devolution deal.

There will also be £95 million for the existing British Library site at Boston Spa.

Headlines from the Budget

Here are the main points from Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget (courtesy of the Press Association)

- Outlining the Government's economic response to the Covid-19 outbreak, Mr Sunak unveiled an additional "fiscal loosening" of £18 billion to support the economy this year, taking the total fiscal stimulus to £30 billion.

- The NHS will receive "any extra resources it needs", whether that is "millions or billions of pounds" to deal with Covid-19 on top of £6 billion of new funding to support the NHS over this Parliament.

- Statutory sick pay (SSP) will be extended to all of those eligible and asked to self-isolate, even if they are not showing symptoms, and the Government will meet the cost for businesses with fewer than 250 employees of providing SSP for 14 days.

- A temporary coronavirus business interruption loan scheme will be introduced for banks to offer loans of up to £1.2 million to support small and medium-sized businesses with their cash flow.

- Business rates for businesses with a rateable value below £51,000 to support small businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak.

- The Chancellor said borrowing will increase from 2.1% of GDP in 2019/20 to 2.4% in 2020/21 and 2.8% in 2021/22 and borrowing will then fall to 2.5%, 2.4% and 2.2% in the following years.

- The National Insurance threshold will increase from £8,632 to £9,500 and the National Living Wage will rise to £10.50 per hour by 2024 if economic conditions allow.

- Fuel duty will be frozen for another year, £26 billion will be invested in roads, and the Government will abolish £2.4 billion annual tax relief on red diesel in two years' time, but agriculture, rail, domestic heating and fishing will be exempt.

- Duties will be frozen on beer, cider, wine and spirits, and the Government will provide £1 million to support Scottish food and drink overseas and £10 million to help distilleries "go green".

- The lifetime limit for entrepreneurs' relief will be reduced from £10 million to £1 million, saving £6 billion a year, and research and development investment will be increased to £22 billion a year.

- A "plastics packaging tax" charging manufactures and importers £200 per tonne on packaging made of less than 30% of recycled plastic will be introduced in April 2022.

- The Treasury will make £120 million available immediately to repair defences damaged in the winter floods and the Government will double investment to £5.2 billion flood defences over six years.

- Mr Sunak said more than £600 billion would be spent investing in future prosperity over the next five years, taking net public investment to the highest levels in real terms since 1955.

- The so-called tampon tax will be abolished, and VAT on books, newspapers, magazines and academic journals will be scrapped from December 1.

- A £1 billion building safety fund will be set up to ensure all unsafe combustible cladding is removed from buildings above 59ft (18m) tall.

Northern Powerhouse reaction

Henri Murison, Director of Northern Powerhouse Partnership, has already released a statement, describing the Budget as making "a credible start towards levelling up".

“Connectivity alongside devolution in North and more funding for R&D outside London has been focus today.

“Northern Powerhouse Rail, which must include a city centre station in Bradford on a new line between Leeds and Manchester is being consulted on as part of a wider network. Wider investment in connectivity across the North, including the long term funding settlement to underpin a mass transit system in West Yorkshire, and significant investment in Teesside and Sheffield City Region, as well as West of Pennines in Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Regions. The massive share of £4.2 billion for London style public transport coming to North because devolution here is now the norm, those places without the exception we will work to bring forward. The commitments made to a West Yorkshire devolution deal are just the first step, with further deals across the North from York and Scarborough to Cumbria, Cheshire and Warrington to north and south banks of the Humber. Five deals for the North across three fiscal events is our ambition and challenge for Ministers, which we will back them on every step of the way.

“A northern Chancellor has given a budget which makes a credible start towards levelling up – closing the North – South divide by investing in the infrastructure which will underpin the Northern Powerhouse. Ensuring those living and growing up here today can take advantage of the opportunities that will be created here is the challenge for the Comprehensive Spending Review.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is on his feet and is predictably scathing.

"This Budget was billed a turning point, a chance to deliver on promises made to working class communities in the election. But it doesn't come close."

Describing the infrastructure pledges as a "slight of hand", he says the claim of 'levelling up' is a 'cruel joke'.

He says the Budget is an "admission of failure, that austerity is a failed experiment".

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