Economy

UK finance minister delivers Autumn Budget announcement

U.K. Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered the country's Autumn Budget announcement Wednesday, which he claimed was about "much more than Brexit."

But, Brexit-related uncertainty has meant that the U.K.'s independent Office for Budget Responsibility has cut the country's growth forecast, anticipating that the economy will grow by 1.5 percent in 2017 before dropping to 1.3 percent by 2020. Originally, the U.K. was expected to grow by 2 percent this year.

Hammond announced that he was setting aside an additional £3 billion ($3.98 billion) for Brexit preparations, on top of the £700 million already invested.

The chancellor added that "Regrettably, our productivity performances continues to disappoint."

New measures unveiled during the speech included raising the National Living Wage for those over 25 from £7.50 per hour to £7.83 per hour from April 2018. In addition to Hammond's recent comments that the U.K. government build 300,000 new homes per year, the Autumn Budget also pledged to abolish stamp duty for all first time buyers purchasing homes under £300,000.

The government also intends to adjust tax rules to prevent avoidance by multinational digital companies, intended to raise about £200 million per year.

Positioning the U.K. as a world leader in technology was also a focus of the speech. The U.K. government plans establish the world's first national advisory body for artificial intelligence, and invest in tech-related infrastructure including charging points for electric vehicles.

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