Hammond plans to boost wages and homes

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Measures aimed at boosting workers’ income and increasing housebuilding are expected in Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement on Wednesday.

The first major economic statement since the Brexit vote will also unveil forecasts which are expected to show higher borrowing and slower growth.

Mr Hammond has warned of “turbulence” and “an unprecedented level of uncertainty” as the UK leaves the EU.

Labour predicted he would fail to help people on low and middle incomes.

The Autumn Statement takes place at about 12:30 GMT, after Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons. Among the measures to be announced are:

  • Reducing the rate at which benefits are withdrawn from people when they start work
  • Banning upfront fees imposed by lettings agents in England
  • Increasing the National Living Wage to £7.50 an hour from April 2017
  • £1.4bn aimed at delivering 40,000 new affordable homes in England

Other changes which have already been announced include investing an extra £2bn a year in science by 2020, a crackdown on compensation claims for whiplash injuries aimed at reducing motorists’ insurance premiums and £1.3bn to improve roads.

The government has also faced calls to abandon planned cuts to Universal Credit, due to come into force in April 2017, which critics say will hit people who are “just about managing” – the group Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to protect.

The Office for Budget Responsibility will publish its estimates for the country’s economic growth and the government’s finances as soon as Mr Hammond finishes making his speech.

“The chancellor has got a very difficult task,” Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said.

“For sure the economic numbers are going to get worse – he’s going to be borrowing more than he wanted to and he is going to be very uncertain about exactly where we will be in four or five years’ time.”

Mr Hammond received a boost on Tuesday as official figures showed the government borrowed a lower-than-expected £4.8bn last month.

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