Autumn Statement: What in means for the South East

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Image caption Stamp duty will be changed under the Chancellor's plans

George Osborne spoke for just under 50 minutes and for much of it he bombarded us with figures.

He could not avoid admitting that he would miss his own annual borrowing target by £5bn but said the public finances would be less badly hit than expected by disappointing income tax receipts.

He also took comfort from the fact that forecasts for future years have been revised up by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which means the public's finances are "in a marginally stronger position" than expected at the Budget in March.

We have already had several announcements over the past few days - at the weekend he announced £2bn in funding (not all of it new money) for the NHS. More money for GP services paid for by the fines on banks following the rate-fixing scandal.

But that was not the end of the spending spree for the banking fines.

He announced today that the Libor money would also be used to pay for more support for Gurkha veterans. We do not have any further details but I am told they will be announced next week.

Stamp duty reform

They will also be used to help the Kent Sussex and Surrey Air Ambulance Trust.

It is to get new helicopter and also have its VAT refunded. It is believed the idea to help air ambulance services came after lobbying from the service's newest recruit - the Duke of Cambridge.

But, I think the most significant announcement for people in the South East was the rabbit the chancellor pulled out of the hat at the very end of his speech - the reform of stamp duty.

It is a significant change which will mean a cut in tax for the majority of home owners.

The chancellor said he was abolishing the current system in favour of a new one more comparable to income tax - in the way that higher tax rates for more valuable homes are introduced in a marginal way.

The change will mean a saving of about £4,500 on the average priced home of £275,000.

Only homes that cost just over £937,000 will see their stamp duty bill rise - with a £5m house seeing its stamp duty increase from £350,000 to £514,000.

The rules come into force at midnight tonight and will see the end of the slab system of stamp duty which meant if a buyer went even £1 over the threshold they would pay a higher rate on the entire amount.

I think this change is particularly significant for people in the South East, where homes are more expensive than in most other parts of the country. The slab system of stamp duty which meant if a buyer went even £1 over the threshold they would pay a higher rate on the entire amount.

'Smoke and mirrors'

The Canterbury MP Julian Brazier has already welcomed the move saying it will make "it easier for young people to get on the ladder". It will also help those who want to move up the ladder.

But not everyone is impressed, UKIP have criticised George Osborne for resorting to "smoke and mirror politics" to pretend Britain's budget deficit was under control.

And compared to other regions the South East seems to have missed out again in funding terms. The funding for the Gurkha's and the Air Ambulance Service is really slim pickings compared to the investment in the North West.

Manchester is to get a new science centre, backed with quarter of a billion funding, and a new theatre space. The plan is to make Manchester the new Northern powerhouse. There were also significant giveaways for Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle too.

No doubt the chancellor hopes the investment will not only encourage growth outside of London and the South East but also reinvigorate the Conservative's fortunes in the north ahead of May's general election too.

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