43. Weekly Newsletter

The Budget: Expectations

Statements from the government so far, prior to the Chancellor’s delivery, about the Autumn Budget have already identified key areas of interest such as transport, health and education. The official delivery is due on the 27th of October and it is considered unusual for this many details to have already been publicly discussed. The Treasury has asked departments to locate a minimum of “5% of savings and efficiencies from their day-to-day budgets” which implies a tightening of the post-pandemic public purse. However, cut-backs are not in the majority: England’s city regions will receive £6.9bn to spend on train, tram, bus and cycle projects. Also, NHS England will gain £5.9bn to reduce the backlog of patients, there will be a national minimum wage increase, and public sector pay increases (both detailed below).

The health department is expected to be a recipient of £5bn, over 3 years, to go towards research and development. Britain’s Chancellor is expected to discuss the £2.6bn which will be spent on establishing an extra 30,000 new school places for children (specifically with special educational needs and disabilities). Other commitments include:

The Newspapers & COVID

The UK’s newspapers, over the last week, have had a wide range of topics with no single issue dominating headlines. The Daily Express, Telegraph and Guardian looked at the “8 Million To Get Wage Rise” and also the reduced engagements for HM The Queen, following a short hospital stay, which even led to the monarch missing her Sunday church service.

Almost 9m people in the UK have tested positive for COVID and with almost all restrictions lifted: cases are now rapidly rising and warnings of new restrictions have been placed. A total of near 140,000 deaths have been attributed to the virus. Nationally, 49.72m people (about 90% of adults) have received their first vaccine and around 45.56m of these patients have also received their second dose. This brings the total number of inoculations carried out, by the private sector and National Health Service, to over 95m with additional booster (3rd vaccines) being rolled out.

Public Sector Pay & Minimum Wage Increases

Next year, over 1.3m public sector workers will receive a pay increase following the government’s latest announcement that the current ‘pay freeze’ is coming to an end. The Chancellor, Sunak, will be delivering higher wages for nurses, members of the armed forces and teachers after the temporary pause in salary progression was introduced in the November of 2020.

Workers on the minimum wage are now due for a pay rise from April in 2022 and those aged over 23 will see this increase from £8.91 to £9.50 per hour. The resultant annual increase for a full time worker would then be an additional £1,074 extra a year (before tax) and should help low-paid, younger workers who were some of the hardest hit during the pandemic. Overall, this represents a 6.6% rise in the minimum pay (for those aged 23 years, and older) which outpaces the current 3.1% rise in the cost of living. Those aged 21-22 will see a pay increase from £8.36 per hour up to £9.18; meanwhile, apprentices now can expect an expansion of hourly rates from £4.30 to £4.81.

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