He said what?! 5 of the most controversial Autumn Statement announcements

Here are some of the measures we didn’t see coming

Tax credit U-turn

Osborne made a U-turn on his previous pledge to change tax credits. The policy had been incredibly controversial, as before the election the chancellor had said tax credits were safe from cuts, but then made significant reductions for working people, including Tory voters.

He said: “I’ve had representations that these changes to tax credits should be phased in. I’ve listened to the concerns. I hear and understand them. And because I’ve been able to announce today an improvement in the public finances, the simplest thing to do is not to phase these changes in, but to avoid them altogether.”

Loans instead of grants for student nurses

In the spirit of “opening up access” to nursing courses, Osborne said grants for student nurses would be replaced with loans.

 

Encouraging councils to sell property to fund services

After previously loyal councils publically complained that selling assets to fund key services was unsustainable, it’s a surprise to some that Osborne has chosen to announce this should continue.

In a letter to David Cameron in September, leader of Oxfordshire County Council Ian Hudspeth wrote: “Capital income cannot be used to support revenue costs – it is neither legal, nor sustainable in the long terms since they are one-off receipts.”

Tampon tax used for women’s charities

Osborne said that while EU rules meant the 5% VAT on tampons could not be removed, the money brought in from the controversial tax would be used to fund women’s charities.

However, some people were unhappy with this.

3% higher stamp duty on buy-to-let properties

Osborne announced a 3% levy on stamp duty for second and buy-to-let homes.

The Treasury is anticipating an extra £4bn from this measure, which will come into effect in April 2016.

One problem with this policy is that it’s likely to prompt a rush to buy before it comes into effect, pushing first time buyers back in the short-term.

A second problem is that landlords will move to cheaper properties to reduce their overall bill, putting further pressure on the area of the market first time buyers operate in.

Another problem is the fear that renters will inevitably end up footing the bill for this measure.

 

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