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British Chancellor Unveils Mini-Budget to Tackle Runaway Inflation

© AP Photo / Kirsty WigglesworthBritain's Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng leaves 11 Downing Street
Britain's Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng leaves 11 Downing Street - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.09.2022
New Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng confirmed many of the rumours swirling around his autumn statement on Friday. But his estimate of the cost to the taxpayer of the government's cap on energy bills was way below those of economists.
The British Chancellor of the Exchequer has unveiled his 'mini-budget' in response to the energy crisis.
Kwasi Kwarteng laid out a series of pro-big business and anti-trade union measures to Parliament on Friday morning.
He told a packed House of Commons the government would continue to intervene to limit rises in gas and electricity bills for households and businesses — caused by the government's sanctions on Russian energy imports.
He said the issue most worrying for people today was the cost of energy, with annual bills predicted to hit £6,500 next year.
"We were never going to let this happen," Kwarteng said, referring to the already-announced £2,500-a-year price cap. "People need to know that help is coming. And help is indeed coming."
And the chancellor confirmed the previous scheme of payments to households of £400 would continue, lowering costs further. "This government is on the side of the British people," he insisted.
Kwarteng revealed the cost of the energy aid schemes would be around £60 billion — half as much as earlier predicted, adding: "we expect the cost to come down as we negotiate new, long term energy contracts with suppliers."
As expected, Kwarteng pledged help for businesses as well as domestic energy users.
He said to protect energy firms from wildly-fluctuating market prices, an "energy markets finance scheme" in conjunction with the Bank of England would offer "emergency liquidity" to energy firms.
Said the independence of the Bank of England was "sacrosanct" — but that he had weekly conversations with the government.
Promising to reverse the looming recession predicted by the central bank, Kwarteng said the government would "turn this vicious cycle of stagnation into a virtuous cycle of growth."
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Workers and Bosses

Condemning ongoing strikes by "militant" trade unions on the railways and other public services, Kwarteng announced legislation to force trade unions to put all management pay offers to a ballot of their members.
"We will legislate to require unions to put pay offers to a member vote, to ensure strikes can only be called once negotiations have genuinely broken down," he said.
And he validated reports that benefit claimants will have their payments reduced if they "don’t fulfil their job search commitments".
Confirming the mooted lifting of the cap on bankers' bonuses, Kwarteng said in justification: "We need global banks to create jobs here, invest here, and pay taxes here in London, not Paris, not Frankfurt, not New York."
"All the bonus cap did was to push up the basic salaries of bankers, or drive activity outside Europe," he said. "It never capped total remuneration, so let’s not sit here and pretend otherwise. So we’re going to get rid of it."
And he announced that his predecessor Rishi Sunak's tax hikes would be reversed.
The rise in corporation tax from 19 to 25 per cent, which was set to come in next year, will be cancelled. And the 1.25 per cent increase in National Insurance, the social security tax, will be reversed starting from November 6.
"We will have the lowest rate of corporation tax in the G20," Kwarteng boasted.
Those tax rises were imposed to pay for clearing the backlog in the National Health Service caused by the COVID-19 lockdown, and for reforms to elderly care.
And in another bonus for the highest-paid, the chancellor announced the abolition of the 45 percent additional rate of income tax on annual earnings over £150,000 from next April, leaving them paying the 40 percent higher rate for income above £50,000.
"This will simplify the tax system and make Britain more competitive," Kwarteng claimed. "It will reward enterprise and work. It will incentivise growth. It will benefit the whole economy and the whole country."
But ordinary workers also got an early tax cut, as Kwarteng brought forward the planned reduction in the basic rate from 20 percent by to 19 to April 2023.
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Cutting Red Tape

Turning to Brexit, Kwarteng said the government would automatically "sunset" European Union regulations by the end of 2023, forcing government departments to review all "retained legislation".
In a bid to promote tourism, he announced that foreign visitors would enjoy VAT-free shopping in the UK.
And in a move that will be popular with middle-income families and the property sector, Kwarteng announced that the threshold for paying the Stamp Duty tax on property purchases would immediately double to £250,000 for all buyers, and rise from £300,000 to £425,000 for first-time buyers.
There was good news for pubs and breweries too, as Kwarteng announced a planned rise in the duties on beer, cider, wine and spirits will be cancelled.
And he said the "draught relief" on sales of beer would be extended to cover larger kegs of over 20 litres — a move intended to help Britain's thousands of small artisanal breweries.
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