UK set for big spending rise in first post-Brexit budget

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid delivers a speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Britain, 30 September 2019. [EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL]

Britain is to unveil its first post-Brexit budget on March 11, the government said on Tuesday (7 January), promising increased public service spending and an end to a decade of austerity.

The government cancelled its previous budget scheduled for November 6 after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called an early election to try to break parliamentary deadlock over Brexit.

He won a comfortable majority last month, which is expected to see his divorce deal with Brussels passed without a hitch, taking Britain out of the European Union by the end of January.

Johnson takes control but charts a bumpy Brexit course

The UK will leave the EU in January. But the Article 50 process was always supposed to be the easy bit. In 2020 talks will focus on post-Brexit trade relations, with a tight timetable and the threat of no deal.

Finance minister Sajid Javid said the budget would “unleash Britain’s potential, uniting our great country, opening a new chapter for our economy and ushering in a decade of renewal”.

In recent months, Javid has already promised billions of pounds of extra investment in the health service, schools and police, after 10 years of cuts imposed by the financial crisis.

Last week the government announced a 6.2% increase in the minimum wage for over-25s from April 1, taking it from £8.21 an hour to £8.72 (€9.66-10.26).

Javid said he would fix new budget rules, which would likely see the country move away from its aim of keeping public sector borrowing under 2.0% of GDP.

Few other details were given but Javid said he wanted to take advantage of historically low interest rates to borrow to invest, while keeping debt under control.

A number of economists have warned about levels of public spending.

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