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Budget 2015: at a glance

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Chancellor George Osborne gave what could be his last Budget statement ahead of the forthcomnig election on the 7 May. The AJ picks out the key points

Planning system
New powers for the Mayor of London have been announced. These include increased influence over 50 riverside wharves currently governed by Whitehall, allowing Johnson to develop the sites for homes.

Development in London
Funding will be provided for the London Land Commission to ‘help address the acute housing shortage in the capital’ and help create a ‘domesday book’ of the surplus, public sector-owned land across London.

Northern regions - the Northern Powerhouse
A high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds has been given the green-light as part of plans to work with Transport for the North to improve rail connections between northern cities.
Devolution of power to Manchester to continue with plans announced to allow the city to keep 100 per cent of additional business rate income.

Cambridge is set to get the same business deal which has been offered to Manchester with the city to keep 100 per cent of the additional growth in local business rates.

Housing and Enterprise zones
The introduction of 20 housing zones on ‘brownfield land’ across the UK was confirmed, potentially houisng up to 45,000 new homes. An extension of the eight existing entreprise zone and two new ones in Blackpool and Plymouth also announced.

Tidal Lagoon
The go-ahead for negotiations to begin on the subsidy scheme to support Swansea’s £1billion Tidal Lagoon project. The project, which will create a 11.5km2 lagoon by installing a 9.5km sea wall containing tide-powered turbines below water level and marine-park attractions above, includes work by FaulknerBrowns, Juice Architects, and Atkins Global.  A further six sites in Cardiff, Newport, Colwyn Bay, Somerset, and West Cumbria are also on the cards.

A new Help-to-Buy ISA was announced which aims to help buyers save up for their first home. In an extension of the government’s Help-to-Buy scheme for every £200 people save towards their first home, the government will put in an extra £50, up to a maximum bonus of £3000.

Income tax threshold
The tax-free personal allowance has been increased to £10,800 next year and then £11,000 in the year after next.

Tax returns
Annual tax returns are being abolished and digital tax accounts are to be created in what Osborne called ‘a revolutionary’ move ‘spelling the death of the annual tax return’. The information HMRC needs will be automatically uploaded into new digital tax accounts.

Postgraduate research loans
In an extension of the loans announced in the Autumn Statement, loans of up to £25,000 will be made available for PHDs and masters/

Church repairs
Osborne announced £40 million to fund repairs to church buildings – a move which trebles the amount unveiled in the 2014 Autumn Statement.

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