Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is preparing to deliver his autumn statement as rumours swirl about what it might contain.
The chancellor will give an update on the state of the economy and may also announce tax and spending changes.
Here’s all you need to know about when it will be and what it could say.
When is the autumn statement?
The autumn statement will take place on 22 November 2023.
What time is the announcement?
The announcement usually starts at 12.30pm – directly after Prime Minister’s Questions – and lasts about an hour.
After the statement, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves responds, and then other MPs ask questions about the statement.
Before the announcement, the chancellor poses for the press with the red despatch box containing the budget papers.
After the speech, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) will publish a report outlining how the economy is doing and its forecasts.
What happens after the statement?
It depends on what is in the statement. If the chancellor announces changes to taxes, then legislation may need to be brought in.
This happened last year. The Finance Bill 2022 was brought in after Mr Hunt’s first autumn statement as chancellor, which included a £55bn package of tax rises and spending cuts to put the UK “on a balanced path to stability” after Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous mini-budget.
It may be that no big changes are announced that will come into force before the next budget – in which case, nothing more will happen.
What could be in the autumn statement?
The focus will be on helping struggling families with the cost of living and boosting growth.
Mr Hunt has said “everything is on the table” when it comes to tax cuts, and has not ruled out rumours about a reduction in inheritance tax and changes to taxes on personal income.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, Mr Hunt said his speech would focus on growth, and pledged to “remove the barriers that stop businesses growing”.
Changes to inheritance tax are being considered – including reducing the tax rate from 40% to 20% on estates above £325,000. If the tax rate isn’t cut in half, there have also been suggestions it could be lowered by 30% or 20%, according to The Times.
But any changes to inheritance tax wouldn’t affect the majority of the population – only 4% of estates paid inheritance tax in 2021.
However, Sky News deputy political editor says in his latest podcast: “Despite all of the chatter… I actually don’t think that that’s particularly going to happen.”
The government could also cancel a planned increase on stamp duty.
The chancellor is also expected to cancel the planned 5p increase in fuel duty from April next year.
Mr Hunt has signalled there could be a squeeze on benefits to find savings for tax cuts.
Typically, the increase to benefits is based on the September figure for inflation – so a 6.7% hike.
But the chancellor has not ruled out using October’s figure instead, which would mean a 4.6% rise.
Mr Hunt has announced plans to remove benefits and step up monitoring of welfare recipients in an effort to bring more people into work. Further rules of the Back To Work Plan will be set out in the autumn statement.
What’s the difference between the autumn and spring statements?
The spring budget was the main fiscal event of 2023. The budget is where the most significant tax and spending changes are usually announced.
The autumn statement is supposed to be an update – but sometimes the announcements can be just as big and important.
In 2017 the government introduced a change that was supposed to mean the budget would take place in autumn, and a spring statement would be delivered shortly before the start of the financial year on 6 April.
But since 2019 the timing has been thrown off – first by the 2019 general election and the COVID-19 pandemic, then the change in leadership in 2022.
Watch live coverage on Sky News of the autumn statement from 11am on Wednesday.
UK weather: New warnings issued as 1,500 properties still without power
Around 1,500 homes and businesses are still without power after heavy snow caused major power cuts in Cumbria.
It came as much of the country was hit by cold and wet conditions over the weekend, including a low of -12.5C recorded in northern Scotland overnight.
Freezing conditions are forecast to continue on Monday and the Met Office has issued new yellow weather warnings for snow, ice and rain.
Cumbria was one of the worst affected regions over the weekend, with up to 30cm of snow falling in places.
Officials declared a major incident in the county on Saturday and advised people not to travel unless necessary.
Dozens of motorists in the Lake District were forced to abandon their cars overnight. Many were forced to seek refuge in local community centres, primary schools and a church.
Electricity North West said its engineers had been “battling treacherous conditions” throughout the weekend and were still working on restoring supplies on Sunday evening.
Another 7,500 homes and businesses have been reconnected after earlier being hit by power cuts.
The weather also caused disruption to travel, including at East Midlands Airport, which was forced to temporarily close its runway on Sunday.
It came after some flights were cancelled at Glasgow Airport and London Stansted Airport on Saturday.
The Met Office’s new weather warnings include alerts for ice across much of northern England and parts of the Midlands, as well as snow for higher areas of Wales and the Peak District.
The weather agency said there was a risk that snow will lead to major travel disruption and there could be “accumulations of 2cm to 5cm on some roads above around 150m, and perhaps 10cm to 15cm on roads above around 350m”.
The warning runs from Sunday evening until 12pm on Monday.
The Met Office also issued a yellow weather warning for rain across parts of southern Wales and southwest England, with the alert due to come into force from midnight and run until 6pm on Monday.
Forecasters said there was a risk of flooding to some homes and businesses, as well as potential disruption to train and bus services.
The RAC warned northern parts of the country were facing an “ice rink on Monday as snow refreezes overnight” and advised motorists to take care.
Spokesperson Simon Williams said: “We’re expecting some very treacherous icy conditions in northern parts, so those who have to drive should exercise great caution.
“If it’s possible to delay or even abandon journeys that may well be the best option.”
However, Met Office meteorologist Tom Morgan said the weather would likely become milder later in the week.
He added: “So there is an end in sight to the wintry weather.”
Rishi Sunak suggests more tax cuts are on the way – but refuses to commit to triple lock manifesto pledge
Rishi Sunak has suggested more tax cuts are on the way because the economy has “turned a corner”.
The prime minister told reporters that while he would not comment on specifics, trimming taxes was “the direction of travel from this government”.
But it came as he refused to say if the pensions triple lock would be in the next Conservative Party manifesto – despite Downing Street insisting in September that it was “committed” to the policy.
Mr Sunak’s comments echo similar remarks by his ministers in recent weeks.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt also said last month that the economy had “turned a corner” just before he unveiled a cut to National Insurance in the Autumn Statement.
However, four million people could also end up paying higher taxes if their wages rise after the government decided to continue the freeze on tax thresholds.
Reports suggest the Conservatives are considering additional cuts in 2024 as the party tries to woo voters and reduce Labour’s 20-point lead in opinion polls ahead of the next general election, which must take place by January 28 2025.
Cuts to stamp duty and inheritance tax are among the options reportedly being looked at by ministers.
When asked about the two policies, Mr Sunak said: “I would never comment on specific taxes. But what I will just say, though, is we have turned a corner.
“We have got inflation down, as I said we would, we have grown the economy and we are now focused on controlling spending and controlling welfare so we can cut taxes. So when we can do more, we will.”
He added: “We want to grow the economy, we want to reward people’s hard work and aspirations and cut their taxes responsibly. That is the direction of travel from this government.
“If you want controlled public spending, controlled welfare and your taxes cut, then vote Conservative.”
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Mr Sunak was unable to make similar promises about the triple lock, which ensures the state pension must rise every April by whichever is highest out of average earnings, inflation or 2.5%.
The policy has come under fire in recent months by critics who claim it has become too expensive and gives the government less financial “headroom” to deal with economic shocks.
Some senior Tories have called for it to be scrapped and Labour has refused to guarantee the triple lock will remain in place if it wins the next election.
While the government continued with the policy in its recent Autumn Statement, ensuring the state pension will rise by 8.5% in April 2024 to £221.20 a week, Mr Sunak refused to be drawn when asked directly if it would be in the next Tory manifesto.
Speaking to journalists as he flew between the UK and Dubai for the COP28 summit, he replied: “[I’m] definitely not going to start writing the manifesto on the plane, as fun as that would be.”
Mr Sunak acknowledged there had been “some scepticism” about if policy was going to form part of the Autumn Statement, but said its inclusion had been “a signal of our commitment to look after our pensioners who have put a lot into our country”.
Reindeer block dual carriageway in Suffolk
A major road was closed by police in both directions after a “large number” of reindeer wandered in front of traffic.
Police were called to the scene, on the A11 near Barton Mills in Suffolk, at around 3.20pm on Sunday.
National Highways East said no traffic had been able to pass due to the “large number” of the animals on the road and added that police had been “trying to catch them”.
The reindeer eventually left the road at around 5.20pm and it was reopened shortly afterwards, officials said.
In an update on X, formerly Twitter, National Highways East confirmed police closed the A11 “in both directions between A1134 and A1101”.
There are not thought to be any wild reindeer in England and it is unclear where the animals came from.
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