Tackling labour shortages and productivity is a huge challenge for the country and I think the Chancellor addressed them in this budget.
Childcare costs were stopping women from returning to work and by announcing that all children over nine month and under five will be eligible for 30 hours’ free childcare is very welcome, alongside increased hourly funding the nursery sector asked for.
Scrapping parents on Universal Credit having to pay upfront for childcare is also very welcome when only 13% on UC were accessing government childcare support because they could not find the money in advance.
These measures will help one million women back into work. Other measures should help the labour shortage too such as abolishing tax penalties on pension pots – something I have long campaigned for.
Tougher sanctions for those on Universal Credit who do not want to work is also something I support. We have one million vacancies in the country and so there should be no reason why anyone should refuse a reasonable job offer.
I was concerned about the rise in corporation tax but the Chancellor has wisely mitigated this with full capital expensing for the next three years. This is, in effect, a £9 billion a year cut on corporation tax. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) says this will increase business investment by 3% a year.
We have a much better economic outlook now with inflation under control, the economy still growing and debt falling. Many other challenges like energy security, carbon capture and storage and investing in high tech like AI were also addressed and should lay some strong foundations for growth.