What time is the autumn budget speech, and what is Rishi Sunak likely to announce?

Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 7:46 am
What time is the autumn budget speech, and what is Rishi Sunak likely to announce? (Photo by Tolga Akmen - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Rishi Sunak and the Treasury team will be finalising this year’s autumn spending review in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, as the UK economy is still recovering from the pandemic.

A number of measures have already been announced which will see the tax burden increase for working people, and more rises could be still to come.

The government has trailed a number of announcements prior to the budget, including big spending capital promises on the NHS and transport.

But the Conservatives have all but ruled out further borrowing to fund much-needed spending on the economic recovery and battle against climate change.

When will the autumn budget be announced?

The autumn budget, or spending review, will be presented to Parliament by Rishi Sunak on Wednesday 27 October.

The Chancellor will deliver the speech at 12:30pm, straight after PMQs.

It will be the second financial statement this year, following the spring budget in March.

Since then, a number of major changes have been announced including a significant increase in National Insurance, which could limit the scale of the announcements this time around.

How can I watch the budget?

Most news channels will be covering the budget speech in full, either on TV or live on their YouTube channels.

NationalWorld will also be running a liveblog, which will feature a stream of the speech.

You can also watch the full speech on Parliament Live.

What is Rishi Sunak expected to say?

The Chancellor is set to strike an upbeat tone as he talks up building a “stronger economy of the future”, with the promise of rising wages, cash for the NHS and investment into regional transport projects.

Mr Sunak’s spending plans are likely to be bolstered by forecasts of faster growth than predicted in the spring as the economy roars back into life since the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, according to analysts.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the independent body whose forecasts guide Budget spending, is expected to up its growth outlook for 2021, cut its unemployment prediction and pencil in lower borrowing thanks to higher tax receipts.

During his speech, Sunak is expected to say: “Today’s Budget begins the work of preparing for a new economy post-Covid.

“An economy of higher wages, higher skills, and rising productivity of strong public services, vibrant communities and safer streets.

“An economy fit for a new age of optimism. That is the stronger economy of the future.”

What do we already know about the autumn budget?

There has already been controversy over the budget, following widespread media reports of what is likely to be in it ahead of time, based on leaks from within government.

Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle admonished the government on Tuesday in a statement, saying “this house will not be taken for granted” and that all policy announcements must be made to MPs in the commons before the media.

Sir Lindsay warned that should the leaks happen again he would “do everything in my power to ensure ministers are called here at the earliest opportunity to explain themselves”.

The Government has already announced that National Insurance will rise 1.25% in April next year, to raise billions of pounds which will help to clear the NHS backlog and social care crisis.

Alongside this, Dividend tax will also increase by 1.25%.

It has also been announced that the triple lock on pensions will be suspended this year, in order to avoid a major increase of about 8% in line with wage growth, caused by the economic downturn and recovery.

And despite pleas from charities the Government has so far said it will go ahead with the planned withdrawal of the £20 Universal Credit Uplift, which the Chancellor said will be replaced with a £500m support fund for councils to help the most vulnerable families in England.

Ahead of the budget it has been reported that the government will provide a further £5.9bn in capital spending for the NHS, to try and clear the backlog.

Multi-billion pounds capital spending pledges have also been made on improving transport links, scientific research and development, converting brownfield sites into new homes and creating more school spaces for children with special educational needs.

What else could be announced in the budget?

Despite the measures already announced, the Chancellor is still expected to unveil a number of spending and taxation pledges.

As wages were the key topic at Conservative Party conference earlier this month, there has been much speculation that the Government could be set to increase the minimum wage or the national living wage.

There have been reports that the minimum wage for anyone over 23 could increase to £9.42 from £8.91, which would almost bring it in line with the £9.50 Living Wage Foundation recommendation - although this is recommended for everyone over the age of 18.

Another theme to come out of Tory conference though was fiscal responsibility, which means any announcements on spending will likely be matched by plans to raise taxes either uniformly or in certain areas.

It has been reported that the Treasury is considering significant reforms to the student finance system, which would lower the threshold at which graduates start paying back their student loans to as little as £21,000.

Taken alongside the increase in National Insurance this would see young graduates on relatively low incomes facing a big loss of income.

It is highly likely that the Chancellor will give local councils the option to raise council tax by up to 5%, particularly given the extra stresses on local government post-pandemic.

The current gas crisis has led to speculation that the Government could introduce a levy on household gas use, similar to that which is applied to electricity usage.

However, there have also been reports that the Chancellor is considering a VAT cut on energy bills, to support households amid rapidly rising bills.