London Student

The Budget 2017: what it actually means for students

Last week the Chancellor laid out his 2017 Autumn Budget but what really happened, what does the government want you to think and what does it all ACTUALLY mean for London students? 

  1. THE MILLENNIAL RAILCARD

What happened: The 18-25 railcard has now been extended to include 26-30 year olds, from April next year.

What they wanted you to think: Philip Hammond told Parliament: “I can announce a new railcard for those aged 26 to 30, giving 4.5 million more young people a third off their rail fares.” Look how generous we are young people.

What it actually means: We don’t know how to solve the housing crisis, so you’ll just have rent and buy properties on the greenbelt and then travel further into work. Here’s some discounted off-peak travel to make your weekends a little more bearable, but won’t make any difference to your fully priced peak daily commute.

  1. HOUSING

What happened: The government has announced a substantial investment in housing, £44bn to reach their yearly 300,000 new homes target.

What the wanted you to think: Houses galore, all is in hand.

What it actually means: Hopefully no one notices that the investment won’t come in till 2019-2020 (see Table 2.1: Autumn Budget 2017 policy decisions). Also basically no money for London….sorry Sadiq, just the ‘Midlands Engine’ and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ this time. Good luck next year.

  1. STAMP DUTY

What happened: The chancellor abolished stamp duty on homes costing less than £300,000, with reduced rates up to £500,000.

What they wanted you to think: Money off the first home you purchase! Housing crisis averted.

What it actually means: Yes, but the Office for Budget Responsibility concluded that for a previous temporary relief for first-time buyers (FTBs) “the main gainers from the policy are people who already own property”. Oh dear me.

Also, no help for people trying to sell their properties onto FTBs, therefore restricting fluidity in the housing market.

  1. NATIONAL LIVING WAGES

What happened: A rise in the National Living Wage – which is set to jump to from £7.50 to £7.83 an hour, in April next year. This 4.4 per cent increase is likely to exceed inflation, boosting the real terms earnings of the UK’s lowest-paid workers.

What the wanted you to think: We are ahead of the inflation curve and finally giving minimum wage workers a genuine boost.

What it actually means: Yes, this true. However, official projections from the Office for Budget Responsibility suggest the national living wage will only reach £8.56 by 2020, under the £9 an hour that was originally expected. All of this still leaves it well below £10.20 London Living Wage, calculated according to what Londoners actually need to live.

  1. STUDENT DEBT INTEREST RATES

What happened: Nothing. Students will still pay up to 6.1% interest, far above the 0.5% base rate set by the Bank of England.

What they wanted you to think: We’ve given you cheaper travel, booze and homes…so you’ll pay back your debt in no time!

What it actually means: If we avoid any questions about student interest rates, hopefully they won’t notice we haven’t changed anything.

  1. BOOZE

What happened: duty on wine, beer and spirits will be frozen.

What they wanted you to think: Hammond told MPs: “This will mean a bottle of whisky will be £1.15 less in 2018 than if we had continued with Labour’s plans. A pint of beer will also be 12p less.” MERRY CHRISTMAS, NOW GO GET PISSED.

What it actually means: Your Dalston hoppy ale will remain at that extortionate price of £6 a pint. Now go spend all of those savings on the Black Friday sale.

Photo accreditation: https://www.flickr.com/photos/number10gov/7500511890

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Emily Horton

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