As it happened: Autumn Statement

Key Points

  • The planned 3p rise in fuel duty in January is cancelled.
  • There will be a 1% cap on public sector pay rises for two years after the end of current freeze next year.
  • Real household income looks set to fall by 2.3% this year - a post-war record, says the Office for Budget Responsibility.
  • Borrowing is £112 billion more over the next four years than previous forecasts, but debt interest payments are £22 billion less than expected.
  • Labour says the Chancellor's "Plan A has failed colossally" and that his economic plans are "in tatters".
  • There will be below-inflation increases in some working tax credits, but other credits will rise in line with inflation.

Join the discussion

  1.  
    0904:

    Good morning and welcome to a big day - politically and economically. Chancellor George Osborne will give his Autumn Statement to the House of Commons at 1230 GMT. Put simply, it's an update on the government's economic plans based on the latest forecasts for growth and borrowing.

     
  2.  
    0904:

    You might remember something during the days of the Labour government called the pre-Budget report - well, the Autumn Statement is the coalition equivalent. You can read a bit more about it here.

     
  3.  
    0905:

    George Osborne's speech is effectively the government's response to the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility. The coalition set up this independent body to give it the true picture of the UK economy - no matter how unpalatable.

     
  4.  
    0906:

    In the Budget in March, the OBR cut its growth forecast for the UK economy in 2011 to 1.7% and for 2012 to 2.5%. It is expected to cut both again today to around 1%.

     
  5.  
    0912:

    The cabinet is due to meet in the next hour to discuss the chancellor's plans. If we get any snippets from that meeting, you'll read them here.

     
  6.  
    0917:

    Ed Miliband has been talking about his hopes for today. The Labour leader says the government "took an enormous gamble with the British economy" - a gamble, he says, that has failed. "It was wrong to take that course, but it would be even more wrong to plough on regardless. They've got to change course."

     
  7.  
    0921:

    "Shocking" - that's the word some of those in the know have apparently used to describe the latest economic forecasts. The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson says what's really crucial is whether the public at large feel the same. Until now resistance to the coalition's plans has been less than they feared, but will that still be true at the end of this vital week?

     
  8.  
    0923:

    Don't forget too, that tomorrow we're expecting the biggest public sector strike in decades. All round, it's a tough few days for the government.

     
  9.  
    Wendy Sayer in Gloucestershire

    tweets: Raising fuel duty & VAT do not encourage people to get out & buy goods or services other than essentials #bbceconomy.

     
  10.  
    Neville Ingley in Staffordshire

    emails: I'd like to see the political class across the parties really participate in the spending cuts. We seem to be governed by an elite across all the main parties who are largely unaffected by the recession. They will not struggle to heat their homes or feed and clothe their families.

     
  11.  
    0934: Breaking News

    The BBC's business editor Robert Peston has got an exclusive snippet for us. He's learned that the government is to increase its levy on banks for the third time in a year. The levy is currently 0.078% on what banks borrow, but it's going up again.

     
  12.  
    0938:

    Out in the country, fuel prices - or rather some help with them - is top of many people's wish list. The government is currently planning to increase fuel duty by 3p a litre in January - meaning an extra \u00a31.50 to fill an average car. Cancelling that rise would certainly be a popular move.

     
  13.  
    Chartered Accountant Val Wishart

    tweets: #autumnstatement Come on George, give small businesses some tax breaks and we will employ!

     
  14.  
    0940:

    Dave Prentis, leader of the union Unison, says ministers can't just blame the eurozone debt crisis for the UK's economic woes - the austerity drive has also had an impact, he tells the BBC. "We need real money to be put in by this government to get jobs and growth."

     
  15.  
    Kunle Esho in London

    emails: I hope to see a package that is hinged on steady future growth and no more hardship for families. I hope to see a concrete plan to help people own houses, retain stamp duty concession for first-time buyers, unfreeze workers' pay and other policies that build confidence in people to go out and invest.

     
  16.  
    0947:

    Lots of the good news from today's statement has already been revealed. We heard yesterday about a plan to inject \u00a330bn into infrastructure projects. Yesterday David Cameron visited the Northern Rail depot in Manchester - one of the companies whose work could be given a boost.

    David Cameron visits rail depot in Manchester (28 November)
     
  17.  
    Tyrone Bentham in Milton Keynes

    emails: I run a small business and changing the VAT rate is costly to all business in the UK. The rate has changed three times in as many years. The difference on many items doesn't stimulate the economy. Increasing personal tax allowances will. Give the public the choice on how they spend.

     
  18.  
    0953:

    A helping hand with childcare looks to be on the way as well. The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the chancellor will outline a \u00a3650 million scheme to provide free nursery education for about 40% of two-year-olds. David Cameron has been accused of alienating women with his policies and even his attitude, so this could be a way to win back some female support.

     
  19.  
    John Bradley in Halifax

    emails: I'd like to see [George Osborne] bring the banks into question, put some restrictions on them and make them pay back the money they owe to plug the deficit gap. Stop making cuts. It is a proven fact that cutting services does not encourage economic growth.

     
  20.  
    1000:

    The Press Association is reporting that the chancellor is to offer \u00a350 million to safeguard the future of cross-border sleeper train services. It is understood the money will be available on the condition that the Scottish Government matches the funds.

     
  21.  
    1007:

    We're yet to spot George Osborne this morning, but here's his number two, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, arriving at Number 10 a short time ago.

    Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander
     
  22.  
    1012:

    "We're absolutely on Plan A" - so says Michael Fallon, Conservative Party chairman - despite all the new announcements. He tells the BBC that it's only because the government has stuck to Plan A that borrowing rates are low and George Osborne is able to bring forward spending on things like infrastructure.

     
  23.  
    1018:

    There are a couple of polls in this morning's newspapers. The Sun's, carried out by YouGov, has Labour on 39% - up 9 points since the general election - the Conservatives on 37% (down two) and the Lib Dems on 9%. ComRes, for the Independent, is very similar - the only difference being an extra point for the Lib Dems.

     
  24.  
    1019: Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    There are two key figures today - growth is one, the other is the date when the government is expected to pay off the structural deficit. It had been promising 2014/15, but that could be about to slip to 2016/17. Politically, that is absolutely massive because it means the Conservatives must enter the next general election in 2015 not promising giveaways and goodies, but more austerity.

     
  25.  
    1024:

    Remember that some of the measures outlined today will not apply to the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The childcare scheme we mentioned a few entries ago applies to England only, for example. In general, there may be extra cash for Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast, but it will be up to the respective administrations to decide how it's spent.

     
  26.  
    1035:

    Deputy PM Nick Clegg has attempted to sound a reassuring note amid all the woe. He says the plans outlined today will do three things: "keep us safe" from the debt storm in Europe; give more help to those who are worst off; and get Britain building houses and roads again.

     
  27.  
    1035:

    Speaking of the eurozone, there's actually a meeting of European finance ministers this afternoon. It'll be interesting to see whether any of them react to the news coming out of the UK today.

     
  28.  
    The New Statesman's George Eaton

    tweets: Osborne is borrowing to meet the cost of unemployment, Labour would have borrowed to fund growth

     
  29.  
    Colin Carroll in Scotland

    emails: I've had to leave the UK temporarily in order to find work and am now in Hong Kong. I'm an IT expert but UK business would rather outsource than employ experienced UK people. Over 500,000 IT jobs have gone off-shore in the past 15 years. The UK economy can't grow if we keep exporting jobs!

     
  30.  
    1050:

    Andrew Cave, of the Federation of Small Business, tells the BBC he's hoping for some help with the pain of rising fuel, gas and electricity prices. He seems unconvinced by the credit easing plan, which will see the government underwrite bank loans to small business.

     
  31.  
    1050:

    After George Osborne speaks today, shadow chancellor Ed Balls will take centre stage. The Guardian thinks the relationship between the two has become one of the most interesting in modern politics. "They have staked their reputations on rival approaches to deficit reduction. But they actually seem to get on," the paper says - something which was in evidence on the BBC's Andrew Marr's show on Sunday.

     
  32.  
    1051:

    It's dark and a bit blurry, but it's him - George Osborne leaving Downing Street a few minutes ago. The BBC's Norman Smith tweets: "Tight lipped chancellor leaves no 11. No words, no smile. Oh dear, is it really that bad?!"

    Chancellor George Osborne
     
  33.  
    Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    predicts UK bankers will be "incandescent with fury" when the government increases its levy on banks for the third time this year. Read his blog .

     
  34.  
    1102:

    Here it is - the Autumn Statement itself, clutched in the hand of the chancellor as he left Downing Street earlier.

    George Osborne holding the Autumn Statement document
     
  35.  
    1102:

    Just to keep you up to speed. We're expecting George Osborne to take to the dispatch box at 1230 GMT. He'll probably speak for about an hour. Following that, he'll be grilled by MPs, led by the shadow chancellor. At 1500 GMT, there'll be a press conference from the Office for Budget Responsibility - the people whose figures are at the heart of today's developments.

     
  36.  
    James Daly in Swindon

    emails: In the Autumn Statement I would like to see help to get young people back into work and for employers like myself to receive help in facilitating this.

     
  37.  
    1113:

    London Mayor Boris Johnson, in his own inimitable style, has given a thumbs up to the chancellor's plans to kickstart infrastructure projects. He's also pleased there's going to be "openness on the subject of aviation capacity" - in English, that there might be support for a new airport in the Thames Estuary, nicknamed Boris Island for its fullsome backing from the mayor.

     
  38.  
    1113:

    The BBC has also grabbed a quick word with Education Secretary Michael Gove. He won't be drawn on whether things are much worse economically than ministers had expected, but insists - you've heard this one before - that it's "definitely still Plan A".

     
  39.  
    1114:

    Don't forget that you can get involved in the BBC's coverage of the Autumn Statement. Please email us using the form below, text us on 61124 or tweet us using #bbceconomy or leave a comment on Facebook

     
  40.  
    1118:

    "There's a stubborn streak in the chancellor," says shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie, arguing that George Osborne is still refusing to change course on deficit reduction. He tells the BBC there isn't "a causal link" between Mr Osborne's policies and the much-vaunted low borrowing rates. We're not in the eurozone, he says, that's why we're not in the same situation as Italy and Greece.

     
  41.  
    1122:

    With just over an hour to go until the chancellor speaks, a quick-run down on what we know - or are expecting - of his plans so far:

    • \u00a31bn to tackle youth unemployment
    • \u00a340bn in credit easing to underwrite bank loans to small firms
    • \u00a330bn to boost infrastructure development - although most of that money is coming from outside the Treasury
    • A raising of the bank levy
    • More free childcare places for disadvantaged families
    • A restriction on rail fares rises to 6% on average rather than 8%
    • A deferral of the 3p rise in fuel duty that had been due in January
     
  42.  
    Jeff Williams in London

    emails: As a musician I fully expected to experience a downturn. Why is the London mayor planning on charging for parking in the evenings and weekends in London? How does this demonstrate commitment to growth? With petrol prices rising, fees dropping and then car park charges, all manner of people like myself will be put off from visiting London or will not be able to work in London because of high costs. To get people spending there need to be incentives.

     
  43.  
    1123:

    But don't forget, amid all those headline-friendly announcements, we're also expecting him to confirm that growth will be considerably lower and borrowing higher than earlier forecasts.

     
  44.  
    1132:

    Adam Marshall, from the British Chambers of Commerce, says it's going to take time to restore the trust between banks and businesses in order to get credit flowing - even with the government's credit easing measures. The banks, he tells the BBC, remain risk-averse.

     
  45.  
    Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    BBC business editor Robert Peston tweets: Italy paying close to penal 8% to borrow billions for 3 years is probably more significant than what Chancellor says today

     
  46.  
    Michael in Lancashire

    emails: I am a teacher with a partner and two children and I am struggling in the current economic climate. I have what would be considered a 'good' wage and I find that we are still struggling. The fear that the chancellor will cut tax credits fills me with dread.

     
  47.  
    1140:

    Fraser Nelson, of the Spectator, tells the BBC he has a phrase for what he thinks George Osborne is doing today. "Gordon Brown gestures", he calls them, referring to public-pleasing measures like more free childcare places. He describes the idea of borrowing more as "fantasy economics" and calls for tax cuts instead.

     
  48.  
    1141:

    Will Straw, of think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research, disagrees wholeheartedly with Fraser Nelson. He says "fiscal easing", in other words, borrowing a bit more, would be a good thing to get us over this particularly troublesome economic hurdle.

     
  49.  
    Breaking News

    Downing Street says ahead of the Autumn Statement: "Our plan is to ensure we keep Britain safe from the sovereign debt crisis and we will do what is necessary to meet our fiscal target."

     
  50.  
    1147:

    More from that Downing Street briefing to journalists: The prime minister's spokesman would not be drawn on whether the atmosphere in the Cabinet was "gloomy".

     
  51.  
    Graham Forsyth in Somerset

    emails: Working in defence aerospace in Somerset, we are facing a 10% cut in jobs with no other industry to take up the slack... what hurts most is the feeling that David Cameron, Nick Clegg and George Osborne don't seem to understand the pain ordinary people are feeling.

     
  52.  

    The Daily Telegraph's Benedict Brogan tweets about reports that Commons Speaker John Bercow will "rebuke" George Osborne for leaking so much of his statement in advance. Last week, Deputy PM Nick Clegg got a telling off for a similar offence - Mr Bercow insists the House must find out before the media.

     
  53.  
    1202:

    We're expecting George Osborne to leave the Treasury shortly to head to the Commons. Over on the BBC News Channel an Autumn Statement special is just getting under way - we'll be dipping into that from time to time.

     
  54.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    There will only be one headline tonight - the depth of the hole Britain is still in and the amount of pain we still have to endure. That's why all the good news has been dribbled out over the last few days, because he knows anything positive that's said today will be totally eclipsed.

     
  55.  
    1212: Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    The problem with the plan to boost infrastructure projects is that they will take months or even years to get going - when what we need is economic growth right now.

     
  56.  
    B Barlow in Newcastle

    emails: I don't get any benefits. I have seen no pay rise in three years but have seen increases in my rent, domestic fuel, diesel and all other living costs so those on benefits should expect a freeze and even cuts to benefits. That is the only way to get us out of this mess

     
  57.  
    1213:

    Louise Cooper, from city firm BGC Partners, tells the BBC that despite all the leaks, she thinks the chancellor will still have a couple of tricks up his sleeve to impress the markets.

     
  58.  
    1218:

    Many of the business owners we've heard from this morning have been pleading for help with business rates - the local tax paid by all non-domestic properties and collected by councils. Will George Osborne hear those pleas?

     
  59.  
    1220:

    George Osborne has just left the Treasury, bound for the House of Commons.

     
  60.  
    1223:

    Over in the Commons, seats are filling up.

    House of Commons
     
  61.  
    1224:

    Mr Osborne - seen here leaving the Treasury - is due to make a statement in about 10 minutes.

    George Osborne leaving the Treasury
     
  62.  
    Jonathan Hughes in Berkshire

    emails: I am an architect with my own practice. There are too many architects chasing too few jobs and I find that I continually have to cut my fees and work longer hours to make ends meet. There need to be major cuts in public expenditure, underlined with growth so that the private sector can take up the slack.

     
  63.  
    1227:

    "Provided [George Osborne] sticks to his guns, he does have a certain amount of room for manoeuvre because he still has market credibility." That's the verdict of former Conservative chancellor Lord Lawson.

     
  64.  
    Louise Grant in Durham

    emails: I am a single mum with three children. I work full-time on a low salary but I receive tax credits. I haven't had a pay rise for the last three years and I am feeling the pinch. Why are tax credits being squeezed again?

     
  65.  
    1227:

    Bond markets appear to be looking kindly on the chancellor - yields on UK bonds are down slightly from last night.

     
  66.  
    Breaking News

    Chancellor George Osborne is giving the Autumn Statement - the goverment's response to the latest economic forecasts.

     
  67.  
    1232:

    Packed house, George Osborne is on his feet. He begins by talking about the chronic lack of confidence in other European countries' ability to deal with their debts.

     
  68.  
    1233:

    We will do all we can to ensure Britain, by contrast, can pay its way, says the chancellor.

     
  69.  
    Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: Tory MPs have been given sheets of paper with 12 helpful questions for the chancellor

     
  70.  
    1233: Breaking News

    The Office for Budget Responsibility does not predict another recession in the UK but has revised GDP growth down to 0.9% for this year and 0.7% next year.

     
  71.  
    1235:

    The OBR says a recession elsewhere in Europe, however, could make it more likely that there will be one here too.

     
  72.  
    1236:

    There are two further reasons for the weaker OBR forecast, Mr Osborne says. First, global rises in energy and commodity prices. This they say explains the slowdown in the UK in last 18 months.

    George Osborne
     
  73.  
    Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    tweets: Osborne says OBR predicts 0.7% growth next year but no recession. OBR more optimistic than European Commission & OECD

     
  74.  
    1237:

    The second reason for the weaker OBR forecast is that the bust following the credit crunch was much worse than previously thought, adds the chancellor. That means the structural deficit - the part that doesn't go away with growth - is even bigger than we thought.

     
  75.  
    1238:

    (That second reason, of course, places blame for the current situation with the Labour government.)

     
  76.  
    1238: Nick Robinson Political editor

    Chancellor say OBR's "forecasts confirms beyond any doubt their independence". In other words it's grim.

     
  77.  
    1238:

    The chancellor says debt interest payments will be \u00a322bn less than previously predicted by 2015 - the Speaker has to intervene to silence baying MPs.

     
  78.  
    Joe Lynam, BBC News,

    tweets: Osborne: OBR says growth 3% by 2015 - very optimistic considering some people predict a 'lost decade' #bbceconomy

     
  79.  
    1240:

    Debt is not coming down as quickly as we'd hoped, but we are set to meet our targets, Mr Osborne says.

     
  80.  
    1242:

    We are the only major western country that has had its credit rating improved in the last 18 months - yesterday, we were borrowing money more cheaply than Germany, he says. Those who think we should borrow more should consider those facts, Mr Osborne adds.

     
  81.  
    1243: Breaking News

    Borrowing is \u00a3112 billion higher over the next 4 years than Chancellor's previous forecasts, but debt interest payments are \u00a322 billion less than expected.

     
  82.  
    Breaking News

    Public sector pay awards will be set at 1% for the two years after the current freeze ends. Mr Osborne says he's knows this is tough, but it's fair to taxpayers.

     
  83.  

    Ft money tweets: Matthew Vincent: No recession forecast - but doesn't stop FT Money columnists referring to one. Feels wrong to edit out.

     
  84.  
    Mike Thomas in Leeds

    emails: When people do not see pay rises based on inflation, why should benefits rise based on inflation? All of us are in this together and all of us need to sacrifice living standards!

     
  85.  

    A mention now of the public sector pension reforms - the ones that are provoking that huge strike tomorrow. The chancellor calls on unions to call off the action.

     
  86.  
    Newsnight's economics editor Paul Mason

    tweets: Public sector pay freeze to be extended by 2 yrs to 1% per year each year.

     
  87.  

    Commitments on overseas aid will be maintained, Mr Osborne says, but he says previous plans would have seen our contribution exceed the target of 0.7% of GDP. Budgets will be adjusted to keep it at that level but no higher.

     
  88.  
    1248: Breaking News

    Pensions credit for poorest elderly people will be uprated by \u00a35.35. Working age benefits will also be uprated by 5.2% in line with inflation.

     
  89.  
    Breaking News

    The child element of the working tax credit will be uprated in line with inflation, but other elements will not.

     
  90.  
    Dow Jones reporter Richard Partington

    tweets: Public sector pay increases capped at 1% average rise. This isn't going to go down well with the strikes tomorrow. #autumnstatement

     
  91.  
    1250: Breaking News Nick Robinson Political editor

    Chancellor confirms that Britain's books will not be balanced by next election.

     
  92.  
    1250:

    The rise in the state pension age from 66 to 67 will be brought forward to 2026.

     
  93.  

    Jane Merrick, political editor of the Independent on Sunday, tweets: Much anger from labour on cap on public sector pay rises. Calls for strike to be called off #autumnstatement

     
  94.  
    Paul Mason, BBC Newsnight

    tweets: Osborne signalling long-term downward path of tax credits as method of re-distribution

     
  95.  
    Paul Mason, BBC Newsnight

    tweets: To be clear: if the Eurozone goes into meltdown, most of this is meaningless. I would ask: what is your contingency plan?

     
  96.  

    Michael White tweets: #autumnstatement A kindness para here, foreign aid (trimmed), poorer pensioners cherished, poorer workers too. But watch the small print

     
  97.  
    1253:

    Now on credit easing, a much trailed measure. There'll be \u00a340bn to underwrite loans for small and medium sized firms - Mr Osborne estimates it will cut the average interest rate faced by those firms by 1%.

     
  98.  
    Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    tweets: Big potential long-term squeeze on living standards of public-sector workers, with 1% salary-rise cap #bbceconomy

     
  99.  
    1255:

    The chancellor says no government has ever attempted such a huge effort to help business in this way. "We won't get all the details right first time, but we have to get credit flowing," he adds.

     
  100.  
    1255: Breaking News

    Onto the housing market. Families in social housing will be able to buy their homes at discounts of up to 50%.

     
  101.  
    Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    tweets: Those on benefits will see bigger income rise, 5.2%, than almost anyone except those who run our biggest companies

     
  102.  
    1256:

    Another measure - a \u00a31bn business-finance partnership aimed at Britain's mid-sized companies.

     
  103.  
    1256:

    George Osborne confirms that the government's response to the Vickers' report on bank regulation will be published next month.

     
  104.  

    Michael White tweets #autumnstatement expanded loan incentives for small business if banks cooperate. Good if it works. Subject to EU state aid approval though

     
  105.  
    1257:

    Loud cheers when Mr Osborne restates the government's unequivocal oppostion to a Europe-only financial transactions tax.

     
  106.  
    1257: Breaking News

    As our business editor Robert Peston predicted, the bank levy will be raised for a third time this year.

     
  107.  
    Lori Malone

    emails: Mr Osborne cannot expect the unions to call off their completely justified strikes tomorrow! He is taxing pensions, he is asking people to pay more when their wages are frozen, inflation is through the roof and energy prices are impossible.

     
  108.  
    1258:

    The government has identified more than 500 infrastructure projects - road, rail, air and broadband internet - that it wants to see built in the coming years.

     
  109.  
    Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    tweets: Osborne wants London to remain the home of global banks, but is lifting bank levy by more than 10%. RBS, Lloyds, Barc, HSBC won't like

     
  110.  
    1301:

    A bit on how the 500 infastructure projects annoucned will be funded - as expected, a mixture of public money and pension funds. The chancellor says today 35 specific projects are getting the go ahead - rail electrification and new stations.

     
  111.  
    1301:

    Several EU leaders have argued for a tax on financial transactions - known as the Tobin tax - to be introduced across Europe. UK leaders argue a financial transactions tax being introduced just in Europe would amount to a "tax on Britain".

     
  112.  
    1301:

    A cut in bills of \u00a350 a year for South West Water customers, who the chancellor says pay the highest prices in the UK.

     
  113.  
    1301:

    The toll on the Humber Bridge will be halved - a few more friends for the chancellor in that part of the country.

     
  114.  
    1301:

    A new rail link between Oxford, Bedford and Milton Keynes will create 12,000 jobs, Mr Osborne adds - one of a long list of projects he outlines.

     
  115.  
    BBC Newsnight, Paul Mason

    tweets: The "central forecast" that Osborne will meet fiscal mandate (struc deficit down in 5 yrs) - is open to downside risk. (Cue Moodys).

     
  116.  
    Alison M Wheeler

    tweets: Disgusted that "right to buy" being expanded. Social housing should be increased not removed from stock!

     
  117.  
    Paul Mason, BBC Newsnight

    tweets: All plans - A or B - have to be recalibrated to the consensus that Brit economy has shrunk, that Brown/Balls years were "bigger bubble"

     
  118.  
    1304:

    All options for more aviation capacity, except a third runway at Heathrow, will be considered. Guess that includes Boris Island - a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

     
  119.  
    Patricia Withers in Merseyside

    emails: Why should people out of work be given a 5.2% pay rise? My husband works full time and hasn't had a penny pay rise in four years!

     
  120.  

    Michael White tweets: Relief for high SW water bills where people have long coasts to clean up & reservoirs in sky. Hurrah says Cornish me

     
  121.  
    Paul Mason, BBC Newsnight

    tweets: British savings for British jobs. You could call it the retreat of global capital to its national heartland, or erosion of globalisation

     
  122.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    Pain today - tax credits frozen. Pain tomorrow - public sector pay limited. Pain in longer term - pension age increased.

     
  123.  
    Breaking News

    An extra \u00a31bn is being allocated to the Regional Growth fund in England and almost half a billion pounds will be invested in high-tech industries.

     
  124.  
    BBC Newsnight, Paul Mason

    tweets: OBR completely failed to understand that sterling down 20% plus central bank with no effective target = inflation hit to consumption

     
  125.  
    1307:

    British businesses will be helped to pay the cost of EU green taxes - without that, jobs and growth will go elsewhere, he says. "We're not going to save the planet by shutting down our steel mills," the chancellor adds.

     
  126.  

    Greenpeace UK tweets: How do you solve a problem like congestion? Not by building roads! Investing in public transport not failed 1970s thinking

     
  127.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    Benefits will increase by much more than wages. Protecting the poor or punishing those in work? Debate sure to follow.

     
  128.  
    1308:

    The chancellor restates the government's commitment to reforming the UK's planning laws - something that's proving to be very unpopular with bodies such as the National Trust.

     
  129.  
    Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    tweets: Was that a U-turn by Chancellor on getting rid of tax credits for research and development by companies? Dyson victory?

     
  130.  
    1310:

    Jeremy Warner, assistant editor of The Daily Telegraph, tweets: Osborne has a terrible frog in his throat. Struggling to keep going #autumnstatement

     
  131.  
    1310: Carlton, in Staffordshire:

    emails: Thankfully we have a strong Conservative government during a very difficult period. Clear focus, clear argument.

     
  132.  
    1310: David Whittam in London

    emails: I'm in favour of right-to-buy being extended - as long as social housing stock is replenished. But what about those of us who are renting privately? We'd like a 50% discount on the cost of a house too!

     
  133.  
    1311:

    From April 2012, anyone investing up to \u00a3100,000 in a new start-up business will be eligible for income tax relief of 50%. In 2012, any tax on capital gains invested in such businesses will also be waived.

     
  134.  
    1312:

    Help on business rates now, as we'd suggested might come. The current holiday for small firms will be extended to April 2013.

     
  135.  
    1313:

    The chancellor discusses the \u00a31bn jobs plan for young people that was announced a few days ago - but he says reform of the school system is also vital if youth unemployment is to be tackled.

     
  136.  
    1313: Breaking News Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    tweets: Chancellor says unemployment to rise to 8.7% next year, according to OBR - falling to 6.2% by end of parliament

     
  137.  

    An extra \u00a31.2bn will be made available for schools - half for local authorities with school placement shortages and half to help fund more free schools, including some specialising in maths.

     
  138.  

    Jeremy Warner, assistant editor of The Daily Telegraph, tweets: Lots of giveaways so far, but still not clear where the money is coming from other than banking levy and public pay freeze #autumnstatement

     
  139.  
    1315: Victoria Goff in Leeds

    emails: Many of my family work hard in the public sector as nurses, teachers and police officers. Their pay rises will be limited to 1% whilst those on benefits will see a 5.2% increase - can this really be fair?

     
  140.  
    1315:

    Childcare help now, as predicted. 40% of two-year-olds, 260,000 children from the most disadvantaged homes, will get 15 hours of free childcare a week.

     
  141.  
    Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    tweets: This is a mini budget, precisely what Osborne said he would abolish

     
  142.  
    1316:

    Rail fare rises will be capped at a maximum of 1% above inflation - rather than the 3% that had been expected.

     
  143.  
    1317:

    Here's a reminder of what we've learnt so far. The 2011 forecast has been revised down to 0.9% and the 2012 forecast has been revised down to 0.7%, while the borrowing forecast is to be \u00a3127bn in 2011-2. The rise in state pension age to 67 is to be brought forward to 2026, saving \u00a359bn, and there is a \u00a350 cut in water bills for families in the south-west of England. For more key points, read the Autumn Statemnt At-a-glance.

     
  144.  
    1318:

    "All of this takes Britain in the right direction," says the chancellor, but he adds: "It cannot transform our economic situation overnight."

     
  145.  

    With that, after 47 minutes, George Osborne sits down and his opposite number, Ed Balls, takes over.

     
  146.  
    Joe Lynam, BBC News

    tweets: A few carrots after all those sticks: train fares to rise by only RPI inflation +1%. Fuel duty rise on petrol cancelled in Jan

     
  147.  
    1319:

    The full Autumn Statement, should you wish to read it, is here.

     
  148.  
    1320: Breaking News

    "Growth flatlining, unemployment rising, well over \u00a3100bn more borrowing than the chancellor planned" - that's Ed Balls's summation of what he's just heard. He says Mr Osborne's economic plans are "in tatters".

     
  149.  
    1321:

    Read more about how the UK borrowing forecasts have increased here, plus here's more detail on that longer wait for state pension.

     
  150.  
    1321:

    "Plan A has failed colossally," says the shadow chancellor. Cue loud cheers from the benches behind him and vigorous nods from his party leader beside him.

     
  151.  
    1323:

    A year ago, the government said the UK was out of the danger zone, they've been proved wrong, says Mr Balls.

     
  152.  
    Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    tweets: Osborne's big bet is that sticking with deficit-reduction plans will keep the cost of borrowing by UK government at record lows

     
  153.  
    1323:

    Here is another chance to watch George Osborne's opening statement to the House of Commons.

     
  154.  
    Alan Johnson in Kent

    emails: I am very glad to get a rise of \u00a35.25. Try living on \u00a3377 a month like I have to because I am unable to work. I would love to go back to work but it looks very unlikely.

     
  155.  
    1326:

    Mr Balls also points out that earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron told business organisation the CBI that the government would "balance the books within five years". That will not, the chancellor himself has said, be the case.

     
  156.  
    1326:

    Ed Balls points out that the chancellor predicted growth of 2.3% for 2011, but now the figure has been cut to just 0.9%. He asks Mr Osborne to confirm he will now borrow \u00a3158bn more than he'd expected.

     
  157.  
    1330:

    "They don't like it, but this is the truth," says Ed Balls, after Commons Speaker John Bercow is forced to intervene to silence baying MPs on the Conservative benches.

     
  158.  
    1330:

    "These would be difficult times for any chancellor," Mr Balls acknowledges, but he says Mr Osborne is making "a catastrophic error of judgement" by failing to cut taxes and slow down deficit reduction.

     
  159.  
    Kellie Meadows in Eastbourne

    emails: I work in a local primary school where staff work extremely hard. How unfair that those working will be worse off than those on benefits. Everything has gone up except our wages. It's a totally unfair system.

     
  160.  
    1331:

    Want to catch some of Autumn Statement again? Mr Osborne tells the Commons he will do "whatever it takes" to protect Britain from a recession. Plus, here's a reminder of what the Autumn Statement is.

     
  161.  
    1331: Jonathan Amos, BBC Science correspondent

    The UK government is to kick-start an innovative project to fly radar satellites around the Earth, with an initial investment of \u00a321m. The radar money is part of a \u00a3200m boost for science announced by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement.

     
  162.  
    1332: Breaking News

    The shadow chancellor says Mr Osborne failed to tell the House that unemployment is forecast to get higher in 2012 and higher again in 2013.

     
  163.  
    1333:

    George Osborne is making notes as Ed Balls speaks, occasionally casting a withering look in the shadow chancellor's direction.

     
  164.  

    Don't forget that you can get involved in the BBC's coverage of the Autumn Statement. Please email us using the form below, text us on 61124 or tweet us using #bbceconomy or post a message on our Facebook page.

     
  165.  
    1334:

    Mr Balls says - to much hear-hearing from Labour MPs - the government should never have abolished his party's Future Jobs Fund. It was making strides to tackle youth unemployment, he insists, while the newly announced replacement for it won't be up and running until the middle of next year.

     
  166.  
    Shaun in Cambridgeshire

    emails: I work hard and have done for many years. Now I'm going to be punished as my pension moves ever further from my grasp. If I had let the state pay for me I'd now get a huge 5.2% "pay rise" and a special offer to purchase a house at half price!

     
  167.  
    1336:

    The shadow chancellor picks up on the freeze on working tax credits - he asks how much a family will be affected by it. This was always likely to be a controversial move and Ed Balls knows he's on safe ground attacking it.

     
  168.  
    1337:

    "For his party's sake and in the national interest, the chancellor needs to change course," says Mr Balls. It's his final flourish and he sits down.

     
  169.  

    Douglas McWilliams, the head of the Centre for Economics and Business Research, tweets: Obr forecast revisions blame everything on the eurozone. So they still blue sky the outlook after 2013. They just don't get it.

     
  170.  
    1339:

    In the House of Commons, MPs will now get a chance to grill Mr Osborne. Meanwhile, we'll be getting some analysis on his speech from the BBC's correspondents.

     
  171.  
    Nigel Malone in Durham

    emails: I was unemployed seven months ago - it was an awful experience and there are many people out there who do need help. As for the public sector complaining about 1% pay rises, think yourself lucky you're not in the private sector. I have not seen a payrise since 2006.

     
  172.  

    Ros Altmann, director-general of Saga Group, tweets: Announcing a 1% increase for 2 years following a 2 year pay freeze seems rather incendiary at this time. Why announce it now?

     
  173.  
    Breaking News Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    tweets: OBR comes as close possible to saying Chancellor flunked debt tests, by saying would have missed targets without Autumn Statement changes

     
  174.  
    1343:

    Motoring body the AA has, unsurprisingly, welcomed the scrapping of January's fuel duty rise. President Edmund King said: "This measure will not only be a relief to drivers but also to the high street as drivers have less to spend if more money is pumped into their tanks."

     
  175.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    There's plenty of pain - for families in receipt of working tax credits, for public sector workers whose pay is in the firing line, and for anyone under the age of 52 who'll have to work longer.

     
  176.  
    1351: Breaking News Nick Robinson Political editor

    The Office for Budget Responsibility has massively increased its estimate of the public sector jobs expected to go. Previously, the figure was put at around 400,000 - it's now 710,000.

     
  177.  
    1351:

    George Osborne announced 35 road and rail schemes as part of his attempt to "overhaul the physical infrastructure of our nation" - here is what he said.

     
  178.  
    1352:

    The GMB union has reacted furiously to George Osborne's announcement on public sector pay. Spokesman Brian Strutton has told the BBC: "As well as the shameful unfairness of further pay restraint on already hard-pressed public sector workers, the chancellor's announcements will push the possibility of a pensions deal further away."

     
  179.  
    Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    tweets: OBR forecasting at least two very difficult years for retailers - growth next year of 0.2%, 1.2% in 2012.

     
  180.  
    Stephanie Flanders Economics editor

    gives her take on an Autumn Statement "every bit as gloomy as forecast".

     
  181.  
    1357:

    Conservative Party chairman Michael Fallon insists there are still things to be cheerful about - including, proof that the chancellor is protecting the UK from the turmoil in the eurozone. Former Labour chancellor Alastair Darling disagrees. He says the one thing the government promised to do, balance the books by 2015, now isn't going to happen.

     
  182.  
    1359:

    One line we've spotted in the Autumn Statement document. It says the stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers "has been ineffective in increasing the number of first time buyers entering the market". Therefore this measure will end, as planned, on 24 March 2012.

     
  183.  
    Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: Labour aides say the key fact in chancellor's statement is that Govt is having to borrow an extra \u00a3158 billion by 2015/16

     
  184.  
    Jody in Stevenage

    emails: I have reserved a new-build property which won't be completed until May 2012. This means I will have to pay stamp duty as a first-time buyer, despite already exchanging contracts. I will really struggle to find extra money by then, I'm totally gutted.

     
  185.  
    1402:

    Oxfam is worried about news that working tax credits will not be uprated in line with inflation. Spokesman Chris Johnes says: "At a time when the lowest-income households are already struggling to make ends meet, it could push even more working people into poverty."

     
  186.  
    1405:

    Quentin Willson, spokesman for campaign group FairFuelUK and former Top Gear presenter, has welcomed the scrapping of the fuel duty rise, but described it as "only a stay of execution". "We're going to carry on pressurising this government to keep duty down and reduce it significantly," he added.

     
  187.  
    1406:

    The market reaction to George Osborne's speech has been muted, says Louise Cooper, of City firm BGC Partners. She says this is to be expected given most of the key announcements had been well trailed.

     
  188.  
    Patrick Browne in Birmingham

    emails: How can we ensure the investment we make in infrastructure creates UK jobs or goes to UK-owned companies? I believe the money would be better spent on helping companies to expand. I believe my company could expand by a further 30% if we received the right support

     
  189.  
    1414:

    A bit more on the state pension age. Eight million people now aged between 42 and 51 will have to work up to a year longer because of the decision to accelerate the move to retirement at 67. The jump in pension age comes eight years earlier than previously planned - from 2026 - and will save the Exchequer \u00a360bn over that period.

     
  190.  
    1414: Heath Marsh in East Sussex

    emails: We need a perpetual supply of independent clean energy. Investment in tidal energy will do just that. Infrastructure is not as important as independent perpetual energy at this time.

     
  191.  
    1415:

    Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander is doing his best to be upbeat. He doesn't seem keen to use the word "austerity", telling the BBC's Andrew Neil the plan is for "further spending restraint". Asked whether the British economy is on track for recovery, he dodges slightly, saying: "The British economy is on track to deal with its debts."

     
  192.  
    1417: Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: OBR says no significant real term increase in wages and salaries until 2014

     
  193.  
    1417:

    The Welsh Government will receive an extra \u00a3300m by 2015 as a result of the measures announced today. That will include \u00a3216m in additional funding for capital projects.

     
  194.  
    1417:

    Missed some of the Autumn Statement? Watch George Osborne on why the 'country cannot afford 2% pay rise' and listen to how he plans to tackle 'high' youth unemployment. Plus here's the moment he gives the green light for 35 road and rail schemes across the UK, including a new rail line from Oxford to Bedford and halving tolls on the Humber Bridge.

     
  195.  
    1419:

    Need to catch up with the Autumn Statement? Here's a summary of the key points at-a-glance.

     
  196.  
    1420:

    Danny Alexander is explaining the decision to increase benefits by 5.2% in April, but freeze working tax credits. The Treasury chief secretary says ministers wanted to protect those worst off, those out of work, but he acknowledges the decision is "tough".

     
  197.  
    1423:

    Back in the Commons, Conservative Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, has asked the chancellor about problems of credit for small businesses. George Osborne said there was a need to get new lenders onto high streets, and he would say more on the banking system next month in his response to the Vickers report.

     
  198.  
    1426:

    Labour's Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Public Accounts Select Committee, told the Commons the plan to boost infrastructure projects "sounds like PFI by any other name". She said any sweetener the chancellor offered to the private sector would be at the expense of the taxpayer.

     
  199.  
    1432:

    Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves acknowledges that some of today's announcments are "the right things to do", but they're not enough. She says it's not a real plan for growth to simply "rob Peter to pay Paul" - for example, freezing working tax credits to fund free childcare.

     
  200.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    blogs that the Autumn Statement was "the statement that George Osborne never wanted to make".

     
  201.  
    1433:

    A quick recap of key points. Growth has been revised down to 0.9% for this year and 0.7% next year. Total borrowing will be an estimated \u00a3111bn more than previously predicted. Unemployment is expected to rise to 8.7% next year.

     
  202.  
    1434:

    And the unpopular stuff... public sector pay rises will be capped at 1% for two years. Working tax credits will be frozen. The rise in the state pension age to 67 will begin eight years earlier than previously planned.

     
  203.  
    1436: Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    tweets: Real disposable incomes to shrink till 2013 (we're all going to get poorer till then) says OBR. Is that the most chilling of its forecasts? No longer any doubt that we're in the longest, worst slump in our living standards since the 1930s

     
  204.  
    1436:

    The sweeteners... 3p fuel duty rise in January scrapped. Free childcare places for 260,000 two-year-olds. \u00a31.2bn for school building projects. 35 new infrastructure projects, including new rail lines and superfast broadband.

     
  205.  
    1442:

    The grilling in the Commons continues. Labour's David Miliband warned that plans to tackle youth unemployment by providing wage subsidies could fail, if there is poor take-up by businesses. His colleague Michael Meacher accused George Osborne of "tinkering at the edges" on infrastructure, given than the boost of \u00a35bn is just 0.7% of current expenditure.

     
  206.  
    1442:

    Just a heads up for you, we're expecting a press conference from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility at 1500 GMT. It's their figures, remember, that have driven everything we've heard today.

     
  207.  
    1443:

    Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls gives his verdict on the Autmun Statement - it's a 'colossal failure' - plus the City responds.

     
  208.  
    1448:

    There might have been a lot of doom and gloom in the speech, but Ian Brinkley, director of The Work Foundation, thinks it might not be gloomy enough. "There is still too much reliance on a spontaneous revival of the private sector," he says. "The OBR's outlook on jobs and unemployment looks far too optimistic."

     
  209.  
    Steven in Peterborough

    emails: Pay rises have been frozen at 1% and my plans to buy my first house in the new year have taken a hit. So tell me where are the good incentives for young professionals in the public sector to remain in this country?

     
  210.  
    1449:

    Brendan Barber, of the Trades Union Congress, says there's going to be "a massive squeeze on the living standards" of six million public sector workers.

     
  211.  
    1452:

    John Cridland, of the business group the CBI, says the one thing that's needed - and the one thing the chancellor can't do - is a solution to the eurozone crisis. If that can be fixed, he argues, UK growth will get going.

     
  212.  
    Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC technology correspondent

    tweets: BT welcomes Osborne's \u00a3100m for 10 superfast cities - "BT is already upgrading large parts of these cities...this could help us go further"

     
  213.  
    1456:

    One thing that might have slipped under the radar was the mention by George Osborne of plans to examine the possibility of regional public sector pay. In other words, should pay for jobs like teaching and nursing be set locally rather than nationally - a move that would inevitably see wages cut in places like northern England, Wales and Northern Ireland compared with London.

     
  214.  
    1457:

    Mike Weir, business spokesman for the Scottish National Party, says introducing regional pay rates would be "disastrous" for Scotland, describing it as the "daftest idea the chancellor could have come up with".

     
  215.  
    1500:

    Discover some of the key points that will affect the pound in your pocket in our Q&A: The Autumn Statement and you.

     
  216.  
    1500: Nick Robinson Political editor

    The idea of regional pay was looked at in the 1980s and 1990s, but no chancellor has ever dared take it further because it would be hugely controverisal. To mention the possibility just a day before a public sector strike is certainly provocative.

     
  217.  
    Ali Abbas

    tweets: #bbceconomy Currently doing an Economics degree, I won't be able to get a job when I'm done but ill know why.

     
  218.  
    1503:

    Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, says there was some good news in the Autumn Statement, but more needs to be done to deliver lower and simpler taxes. "If tax remains the heavy and uncomfortable burden it is today, growth will stay disappointing," he adds.

     
  219.  
    1504:

    Robert Chote, chairman of the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, is now giving a press conference on its latest economic forecasts.

     
  220.  
    1505:

    The underlying momentum of the economy is likely to weaken in the final quarter of the UK, but gradually increase next year - assuming the eurozone crisis can be solved, Mr Chote says.

     
  221.  
    1505:

    The BBC has spoken to Atoc, the body representing train operators, who in response to George Osborne's announcement on rail fares have clarified: "The rise is capped at 6% on AVERAGE - fares may be higher or lower than this."

     
  222.  
    1506: Breaking News

    Robert Chote of the Independent Office for Budget Responsibility says the OBR is also more pessimistic about the medium term than previously stated. By 2016 the economy will be about 3.5% smaller than had been expected.

     
  223.  
    1510:

    Thanks to the additional measures outlined in the Autumn Statement, the government is still on target to meet its fiscal goals, Mr Chote says - "albeit with less margin for error" than it had before.

     
  224.  
    1510:

    Long-term unemployment remains below the level experienced in 1990s and there is currently "no evidence of a serious structural deterioration in the labour market", Mr Chote says.

     
  225.  
    1511:

    The Office for Budget Responsibility chairman says it's hard to pick a single reason why growth is so slow, but he says his best guess is that "tight credit conditions and the weakness of the financial sector generally" are making it hard to channel funds in economically productive activites.

     
  226.  
    1516: Breaking News

    Real household income looks set to fall by 2.3% this year - a post-war record, says Office for Budget Responsibility chairman Robert Chote.

     
  227.  
    1516: Breaking News

    Robert Chote of the OBR predicts that unemployment will peak at 2.8 million next year - 8.7% of the workforce.

     
  228.  
    1519:

    The credit easing scheme for small business will only work if it actually stimulates new lending - not merely underwrite lending that would have happened anyway. It must also not simply replace lending to larger firms., says OBR chairman Robert Chote

     
  229.  
    1519:

    The chances of a much worse outcome than we're predicting are much greater than the chances of much better one, Mr Chote says.

     
  230.  
    1523:

    Student loans will be on average more than a thousand pounds higher per person than previously predicted, while repayments will be lower, Mr Chote says. In other words, the government will be paying out more to students and getting less back.

     
  231.  
    1525:

    The government has signed a deal with Switzerland to combat tax evasion. It estimates this could yield \u00a34-6bn a year, but the OBR believes there's a lot of uncertainty around this promise and the estimated gains are likely to be at the lower end of that range.

     
  232.  
    Kat in Leicester

    emails: I see working tax credits are frozen to pay for other things. Yes, I will get a bit more for my son. But at 45 and living in a badly maintained private rental, when will I get to own my first home?

     
  233.  
    1528:

    Away from the OBR press conference, reaction to the Autumn Statement is continuing to pour in. Neil Verlander, of Friends of the Earth, is very unhappy: "Throwing billions of pounds at roads and dirty energy will increase our dependency on gas, coal and oil and lock cash-strapped homes and businesses into spiralling fuel bills. Just a fraction of the money earmarked for new roads would throw a crucial lifeline to the solar industry."

     
  234.  
    Rolfe Pearce in Stafford

    emails: I am a foster carer, and our payments have been cut, the cost of living has increased, and we have a lot less to spend on the children in our care, we are part of this big society we are doing our bit, but we are really suffering as a group of carers.

     
  235.  
    1530:

    The freeze on working tax credits seems to be one of the most unpopular moves. The Citizens Advice Bureau accused George Osborne of breaking his promise to protect the lowest income families from cuts. Save the Children says the freeze "could mean the difference between putting food on the table for their children or having them go hungry".

     
  236.  
    Nicola in County Durham

    emails: Helping families! I am a teacher with two children. I work hard and should not have to watch people on benefits have more to live on per week than I do. As for announcing a 1% pay rise and having to work longer, I am speechless. Bring the chancellor and PM in to teach my Year 11 classes and see how they get on.

     
  237.  
    1533:

    The chancellor's grilling in the Commons has come to an end. Speaker John Bercow told the House George Osborne had faced 96 questions in 97 minutes following his statement.

     
  238.  
    1537:

    Robert Chote, chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility, is taking questions. He's asked what the odds are of the UK going back into recession. While he isn't specific, he does says they're probably similar to the chances of a quarter-on-quarter fall in growth next year - one in three.

     
  239.  
    1547:

    George Osborne might be done in Westminster, but his day is far from over. He's now heading to Brussels for a meeting of European finance ministers. If we get any reaction from there to events here in the UK we'll bring it to you.

     
  240.  
    Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    A downgrade in growth was expected, but the scale of the downgrade for next year in particular - to 0.7% - has shocked MPs. So too has the realisation that austerity is going to be needed well into the next Parliament.

     
  241.  
    1548:

    The Daily Telegraph has come up with a list of winners and losers. from the Autumn Statement. The former include motorists, parents, commuters and pensioners. The latter include public sector workers, pensions and business travellers.

     
  242.  
    1555:

    The New Statesman says that "by pushing back his structural deficit reduction plans into the next Parliament", George Osborne "has forced Labour to acknowledge what its position would all along have entailed: that if you cut less now, you have to cut for longer".

     
  243.  
    1555:

    The Daily Mirror is focusing on the plan to cap public sector pay rises at 1% for two years - pointing out that the move "risks a fresh clash with unions" on the back of current pensions dispute. The Daily Mail, meanwhile, says the speech "was more depressing than the new film version of Wuthering Heights which is two hours of wind howling and rain pelting on window panes as Cathy wails 'Eeeeeacliffe!'"

     
  244.  
    1601:

    Airlines and travellers will be nursing dashed hopes right now because the speech contained no plan to defer a rise in air passenger duty. The increase, calculated by airlines to be more than 10%, will go ahead in April 2012. In a joint statement, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways said it would deter inbound tourism and foreign investment.

     
  245.  
    1601:

    Strong words from think tank the Adam Smith Institute, which describes plans to use public money to underwrite 95% mortgages as "immoral". "It will draw people into home ownership who will be unable to afford their loans when interest rates eventually rise again. And it risks setting off the same sub-prime events that got us into this pickle in the first place."

     
  246.  
    1615:

    We've put together a collection of your reactions to today's announcements. Read it here.

     
  247.  
    1616:

    Conservative MP John Redwood wishes the government had cut back further from the outset. "But we are where we are, what matters now is that the growth strategy works," he tells the BBC.

     
  248.  
    Dave in London

    emails: Some of the comments about people are benefits are disgraceful. I work full-time but why shouldn't people who have been made unemployed and paid into the system not be supported as well? They've contributed just as much as anyone.

     
  249.  
    Steven in Walton-on-Thames

    emails: I do wish public sector workers would sometimes take their blinkers off - a guaranteed 1% rise plus a final-salary pension in the public sector may not seem great, but most of us in the private sector don't get *any* guarantees on pay increases

     
  250.  
    Kay in Bristol

    emails: I am fed up with public sector workers - especially teachers - declaring how tough it is for them. I have had to give up my career to look after kids as I can't get a job to fit school hours. My husband earns over \u00a340,000 therefore we have lost what little help we had.

     
  251.  
    1624:

    In Wales, where public sector employment is particularly crucial, proposals to consider setting the rates of pay locally have gone down badly. Plaid Cymru's Hywel Williams said: "Regional pay will only institutionalise lower pay in Wales compared to London and the south-east where many workers earn double that of workers in Wales, leaving us permanently lagging behind."

     
  252.  
    1627:

    More reaction to the decision not to heed pleas to scrap a rise in air passenger duty. Mark Tanzer, chief executive of travel organisation Abta, says it "flies in the face of basic economics", adding: "This double-inflation increase will damage UK growth and drive down UK air passenger numbers when we need to stimulate the economy."

     
  253.  
    1633:

    The Guardian has spotted a bit of devil in the detail. It says page 97 of the Office for Budget Responsibility's report says real earnings are unlikely to move back ahead of inflation until the second quarter of 2013. The previous forecast was for the third quarter of 2012.

     
  254.  
    1634:

    The Guardian has also noticed that according to the Treasury's own analysis, today's measures will mean an increase in the number of children living in poverty of 100,000 in 2012/13,

     
  255.  
    1639:

    Is there anything to be cheerful about? "No, it's a very difficult situation," says Business Secretary Vince Cable, with remarkable candour. But he quotes former PM Tony Blair who pointed out in an interview this morning that any government in charge right now would have been struggling.

     
  256.  
    1640:

    Mr Cable's Labour shadow Chuka Umunna appears to disagree with his party's former leader, however. He tells the BBC it was George Osborne's failure to consider growth and jobs until now that has left the UK vulnerable to the chaos in the eurozone.

     
  257.  

    More from Wales. First Minister Carwyn Jones welcomed the extra \u00a3216bn for capital projects, but said it was not enough and should have been done earlier. However, Paul Davies, finance spokesman for the Conservatives in Wales, said it was time for the Welsh Labour government "to end its culture of whingeing and start taking responsibility for its own spending".

     
  258.  
    1653:

    As we draw our live commentary to a close, let's just remind ourselves of some of the key points from today. Growth revised down to 0.9% for this year and 0.7% for 2012, and government borrowing by 2015 to be \u00a3111bn more than previously forecast. That means David Cameron won't be able to go into the next election with the books balanced as he'd hoped.

     
  259.  
    1653:

    To try to inject life into the flagging economy, \u00a340bn will be spent on underwriting bank loans to small business and \u00a330bn on kickstarting infrastructure projects like new rail lines. There'll also be no fuel duty rise in January.

     
  260.  
    1653:

    But there's pain too. Public sector pay rises will be capped at 1% for two years - hot on the heels of a two-year wage freeze. Working tax credits will not rise in line with inflation and the state pension age will be brought forward to 67 eight years earlier than planned.

     
  261.  
    1659:

    Thanks very much for joining us today and for all your contributions to our page. If you'd like to get more analysis of what George Osborne had to say, stay tuned to the BBC News Channel and BBC Radio.

     

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