Autumn Statement: What the papers say

GEORGE OSBORNE can count himself rather lucky after ‘bailing’ himself out of the political storm surrounding proposed cuts to tax credits with a rather adept U-turn, according to many of today’s papers.

The scrapped policy will be part-funded by an £11.6bn raid on British businesses, City AM reports, while other potential pitfalls such as proposed cuts to the police force were also averted through an unexpected £53.2bn rise in projected tax receipts.

Those moves usher in the “end of austerity” according to the Telegraph, which hailed the “protection” of welfare and police budgets and new taxes on property and businesses.

“The chancellor had been widely expected to sharply cut public spending and reduce benefits but he wrongfooted Labour by slowing the government’s austerity programme and boosting spending by tens of billions of pounds in many areas,” the paper wrote in an editorial.

But the Guardian warns the chancellor indicated he will continue to make “difficult decisions” as he continues to cut day-to-day government spending and the welfare budget in pursuit of a budget surplus of £10.1bn by 2019/20.

The Independent went further, claiming apprenticeship levy and the shift from tax credits to universal credits – which will, according the Resoultion Foundation, cost households £1000 on average in 2020 – amounted to “class war”.

“George Osborne said in his Autumn Statement that the Conservatives are the ‘mainstream representatives of the working people of Britain’ and that they want to achieve ‘economic recovery for all’. But there is evidence to suggest that certain sectors of society will pay for his economic recovery through cuts and taxes,” it wrote.

For its part, the Daily Mail was unconvinced by the chancellor’s sums, citing a PwC report suggesting he will borrow £30billion more than expected over the next five years as he struggles to balance the books.

The report predicted the government will borrow a “whopping” £163bn over the course of this parliament, up from the £133bn outlined in the previous Budget.

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