But lack of significant new cash for infrastructure
Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced extra funding for schools and an overhaul of technical education, in a Budget short on new cash for the construction sector.
The government committed to opening an additional 110 free schools - with the option of allowing selective admissions - as trailed, and also unveiled an additional £216m for improving existing schools.
Hammond also confirmed an overhaul of technical education, including the launch of new ‘T-levels’ for 16-19 year-olds, to “establish parity of esteem between academic and technical education”.
The government will invest £500m a year into technical education, ramp up training via technical routes to 900 hours - a 50% increase - and slash the 13,000 or so technical courses currently available to 15. Technical students will have access to student loans, like students at university.
There were also changes to growth forecasts, with the OBR upgrading its forecasts for growth for next year from 1.4% to 2%
In 2018 growth will slow to 1.6%, before picking up to 1.7% in 2019, 1.9% in 2020, and 2% in 2021. Previous forecasts were 1.4% for 2017, 1.7% for 2018, 2.1% in 2019, 2.1% in 2020 and 2% in 2021.
Other announcements included:
- More devolved powers for the Mayor of London
- £90m for the North and £20m for the Midlands to tackle “pinch points” on the national road network
- Launching £690m competition to tackle urban congestion
- Midlands Engine strategy to be launched tomorrow
- £350m extra funding for Scotland, £200m extra for Wales and £100m extra for Northern Ireland
- Hammond says Treasury to raise an extra £145m by 2021-22 through a national insurance tax rise for the self-employed
- Business rates system on properties to be reformed. In the meantime, a £435m package of rate cuts targeted at small businesses and pubs