Jeremy Hunt will unveil his first Spring Budget since becoming chancellor on Wednesday, with aims of boosting growth amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
The Budget is set to introduce 12 new low-tax “investment zones” in a bid to kickstart the UK’s stalling economy and help “level up” areas outside of London. The chancellor is also understood to be ready to increase the tax-free allowance for pensions to encourage those who returned early to bolster the UK’s workforce.
The financial announcement comes as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned the UK’s economy is likely to perform worst of any G7 nation this year.
Mr Hunt is due to deliver his Budget to the House of Commons at 12.30pm, following Prime Minister’s Questions.
The chancellor is expected to reveal 12 zones clustered around universities – radically scaling back a scheme introduced by the former prime minister Liz Truss which saw hundreds of councils bid against each other.
It was only a couple of months ago that Mr Hunt issued his Autumn Statement, having been appointed chancellor on 14 October following the economic chaos caused by Ms Truss’ and Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-Budget in September.
His predecessor’s plan tanked the pound and brought a swift end to Ms Truss’ premiership.
Months on and Mr Hunt is still contending with rocketing inflation, mass industrial action over pay and a cost-of-living crisis.
Saying he wanted to “supercharge growth” across the country, Mr Hunt said: “True levelling up must be about local wealth creation and local decision-making to unblock obstacles to regeneration.”
The chancellor is also set to announce £100m of investment in research and development projects in Glasgow, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, as well as providing more funding for levelling up partnerships across England.
The Independent will stream the Spring Budget live from the House of Commons and will report on it live via our website. The announcement can also be watched live on major news channels, such as BBC News and Sky News.