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Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer unveils the cost-of-living budget on Wednesday as the government seeks to rein in public spending in the face of a new wave of strikes over pay.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt delivers his tax and spending plan to parliament from 1230 GMT, as teachers, junior doctors, civil servants, BBC journalists and drivers line the London Underground on the final day of mass walkouts.
Public and private sector workers show little sign of ending strike action that began last year when high inflation eroded the value of wages.
Ahead of the Budget, Hunt has flagged increased funding for childcare and proposals to encourage Britons over 50 to enter the workforce.
The government is also expected to confirm plans to lure those who have dropped out of the labor market back to work.
It looks set to fill 1.1 million vacancies – partly due to a shortage of EU workers following Brexit, and a record number of people classified as long-term sick.
Reports add that Hunt could allow workers to put more tax-free money into private pensions.
“Reports of senior doctors taking early retirement due to the impact of pension tax cuts… have undoubtedly been of particular concern to the government given the already strained health system in the wake of the pandemic,” said Tom Selby, AJ’s Head of Retirement Policy. bell
“However, both lifetime and annual payments apply to all types of personal property, so this announcement would increase retirement savings for millions of Britons.”
In neighboring France, the Senate voted over the weekend to approve highly unpopular reforms to the country’s pension system.
The main measure is an increase in the minimum retirement age to 64 from 62, which many consider unfair to people who started working young.
Meanwhile, Britain’s retirement age of 66 will rise before the end of the decade, meaning longer waits to access the state pension. A private pension is available at an older age.
– Energy help? –
As well as pay concerns, health workers are protesting overwork caused by labor shortages, with doctors below advisory levels among the hundreds of thousands expected to strike on Wednesday.
Prime Minister’s spokesman Rishi Sunak said the Conservative government wanted to work with unions to achieve “fair and equitable” wage increases.
“But we’ve been clear that we want to see strike action end before we do that.”
Thousands of public and private sector workers have been on strike for months as pay rises fail to keep pace with UK inflation, which remains above 10 per cent.
As millions of Britons face a cost-of-living crisis, the government has subsidized huge energy bills, with some of that support expected to end from next month.
Wednesday’s budget may offer fresh help, economists said, after the government posted a bigger-than-expected surplus in January and the country avoided a recession last year.
As is customary with recent UK budgets, the government has already followed through with a number of announcements intended to be included in Hunt’s statement.
Britain on Monday detailed plans to boost military and security spending to deal with the “time-defining challenge” posed by China as it battles Russia.
It includes plans to spend 5 billion pounds ($6.1 billion) on defense over the next two years, with a focus on nuclear deterrence and the replacement of depleted munitions stocks.
On Friday, Britain announced a 20-year plan to capture carbon and commit to nuclear power as it bolsters energy supplies and seeks a net-zero economy by mid-century.
Hunt said the move would help prevent a repeat of rocketing energy bills after major oil and gas producer Russia’s invasion of Ukraine tightened global supplies.