This week the Chancellor, Philip Hammond presented his first Spring Statement since the government decided to move to one major fiscal event in a year. The statement was light on new policy announcements, with the major tax and spending decisions being left to the Autumn Budget later this year.
What are the key points?
- The OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) has delivered a slightly sunnier forecast for the UK economy due to stronger than expected tax receipts. As a result, public borrowing has fallen to £45.2bn, and the first sustained fall in debt for 17 years. The OBR now predicts that in 2018-19 the UK will be running a surplus on its current account. However, for the first time in modern history, UK GDP growth is expected to remain below 2% in every forecast year (from now to 2022).
- It was announced that £80 million will be made available to support small businesses engaging with apprenticeships. In addition, the National Living Wage will rise across all age groups:
|For workers 25 and over||£7.83|
|21 to 24||£7.38|
|18 to 21||£5.90|
|16 – 17||£4.20|
- Over £1.5 billion has been allocated to departments and devolved administrations to prepare for Brexit in 2018-19. It is part of the £3 billion to be spent over two years announced at Autumn Budget 2017.
What does the Spring Statement 2018 mean for young people and the sector?
Whilst this may sound positive, growth continues to disappoint. Although the economy is working for some, it isn’t working for many. The social mobility of young people from the most disadvantaged areas is yet to improve and stats from our recent State of the Membership Report show that there has been a 41% reduction in universal spending on young people in England between 2014/15 and 2017/18. The impact of this has been felt acutely by young people and communities with the closure of 600 youth centres. Without a safe space to go and a trusted adult to talk to, young people who face multiple challenges. They are unable to get the support they need to successfully transition into adulthood and employment.
Our call to action!
We need to focus on ensuring the outcomes of the Civil Society Strategy are properly resourced, so that our members and the wider youth sector have the funding that it needs to ensure that all young people are able to build bright futures. We also need to get certainty on Brexit funding and the implications of this on organisations that support young people. None of these issues have been addressed in the Spring Statement.
We urge the Chancellor to address these issues in the budget later this year and invest in young people and youth services.