Here are some of the main announcements made in the March 2015 Budget. Some of these are confirmations or updates of previous announcements
For more on the Budget go to https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/budget-2015
Disability and accessibility
1.234 Children and young people experiencing problems with their mental health. £1 billion provided over the next 5 years to start new access standards which will see over 110,000 more children cared for over the next Parliament. The government will also provide £118 million by 2018-19 to complete the roll-out of the Children and Young People’s Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (CYP IAPT) programme, ensuring that there are talking therapists in every part of the country providing the best quality treatment for children.
1.235 Women who experience mental ill health during the perinatal or antenatal period. Additional £75 million support over the next 5 years to give the right care to more women. The Department for Education will also provide an additional £1.5 million towards piloting joint training for designated leads in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and schools to improve access to mental health services for children and young people.
2.289 Protecting ‘vulnerable’ people from nuisance calls. The government will provide a £3.5 million package to explore ways of protecting vulnerable people from nuisance calls. This will include trialling the development and provision of innovative call blocking technology, research and a campaign to raise awareness of how to reduce and report nuisance calls.
2.246 Talking buses. The government will continue to work with the Transport Systems Catapult and industry to develop a solution to ensure bus travel remains accessible to blind and deaf users.
Gift Aid donation changes
2.104 The maximum annual donation amount which can be claimed through Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) to be increased to £8,000 from April 2016.
1.77 The government will implement ‘GOV.UK Verify’ – a new way for people to prove their identity online when using government services – across central government.
National Minimum Wage
1.213 As announced by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, the government has accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations for increases to the adult, 18-19 and 16-17 (NMW) rates. The adult NMW rate will increase by 3.1% to £6.70 from October 2015.
1.214 The apprentice rate will increase by 57p an hour to £3.30.
Education and Skills
1.180 Apprenticeships. The government, through the introduction of an Apprenticeship Voucher, will put employers in control of the government funding for the training apprentices need. The new mechanism, which will be developed and tested with employers and providers immediately and fully implemented from 2017.
2.241 The government will update its guidance to JobCentre Plus staff by autumn 2015, to ask them to signpost job-seekers to time bank and task-sharing opportunities where appropriate, working with Sharing Economy UK, to help job-seekers boost their skills, experience and income.
1.113 Invest in skills and business development in the creative industries.
- Extension of the Skills Investment Fund, providing £4 million to ensure that it can continue to match fund support for training and development in film, television, visual effects, video games and animation for a further two years
- Committing £4 million to a new Video Games Prototype Fund over the next 4 years; this fund is designed to aid access to finance and business support, and to target games development talent
1.236 People with mental health conditions. Starting from early 2016, the government will provide online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to 40,000 Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants and individuals being supported by Fit for Work. From summer 2015, the government will also begin to co-locate Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) therapists in over 350 Jobcentres, to provide integrated employment and mental health support to claimants with common mental health conditions.
1.179 Postgraduate support. This additional support will focus on seizing new opportunities in postgraduate research and build on partnerships with industry, charities, academies and individual members of society. It will include:
- launching a review into how the government can strengthen its funding for
- postgraduate research.
- assessing, as part of this review, options to strengthen partnerships and cofounding between government, industry and charities.
- introducing income-contingent loans of up to £25,000 to support PhDs and research-based masters degrees. These loans will be in addition to existing funding, and designed to minimise public subsidy. The government will work with research councils, universities and industry to examine how best to design them so that they complement existing funding streams and continue to support the most excellent research
2.269 Universal infant free school meals. The government will provide £10 million to support the provision of universal infant free school meals in small schools and a further £10 million capital funding to help schools improve kitchen facilities.
1.208 Personal allowances will be increased to £10,800 in 2016-17 and to £11,000 in 2017-18. The Marriage Allowance will also rise in line with the personal allowance.
1.210 The higher-rate threshold will rise in line with the personal allowance, taking it to £42,700 in 2016-17 and £43,000 in 2017-18.
The Chancellor said, in his speech, a further 12 billion welfare savings were needed.
"And in order to deliver that falling [National] debt share we need to achieve the £30 billion further savings that are necessary by 2017-18.
I am clear exactly how that £30 billion can be achieved.
£13 billion from government departments.
£12 billion from welfare savings.
£5 billion from tax avoidance, evasion and aggressive tax planning."
2.114 Tax-Free Childcare. The government has doubled the maximum amount that parents of disabled children will be able to receive to help to pay for their childcare costs, from £2,000 to £4,000 per disabled child per year.
2.116 EEA nationals’ access to Universal Credit. From 2015, the government will restrict access to Universal Credit for EEA migrants who are out of work.
2.117 Universal Credit. The government plans to implement 7 waiting days for Universal Credit in July 2015.
2.119 Bereavement Support Payment (BSP). BSP will replace the existing bereavement benefits from April 2017 and, as announced at Autumn Statement 2014, this will be exempt from Income Tax.
2.120 Working Tax Credits. From 6 April 2015 self-employed claimants will be required to be undertaking an activity which is commercial and profitable, or working towards profitability. This test will apply to the working hours required to qualify for WTC as a self-employed claimant. These claimants will also be required to register their self-employment for self assessment purposes and provide a Unique Tax Reference number will begin from April 2016.