- Autumn Budget 2017: Key policy points and highlights
- Stamp duty changes: what you need to know
- Allister Heath: Face-saving Budget was wholly inadequate
- Don't be fooled: new funds for housing are not what they seem
- Nick Timothy: May bent Hammond to her will - for the better
- Hammond pledges £44bn to build 300,000 new homes a year
- Personal income tax allowance to rise to £11,850 in April
Philip Hammond abolished stamp duty for most first-time buyers as he offered an optimistic vision for Britain's future in a Budget designed to appeal to the younger generation.
The Chancellor put solving the housing crisis at the heart of his second Budget as he promised to make home-owning “a reality, not just a dream” for those currently priced out of the market.
Mr Hammond set out to cast off his “Eeyore” image with a positive Conservative vision of a country “full of new opportunities” which saw £25 billion of new spending as the Government's austerity drive was significantly watered down.
He sought to reach out to younger voters amid growing Conservative fears that the failure of those in their 30s to be able to afford homes was driving voters into the arms of the Labour Party.
The former Remain campaigner also tried to prove he can be trusted as a Brexit Chancellor by talking of the “enormous prize” presented by leaving the EU, as well as pledging an extra £3bn to get the country ready for Brexit.
Other headline policies included an extra £6.3 billion for the NHS, higher taxes on dirtier diesel cars, a £1.5bn package to speed up Universal Credit payments and a rise in the 40 per cent income tax threshold to £46,350, with the personal allowance upped to £11,850.
Mr Hammond was forced to fund most of the giveaways through extra borrowing, after the official spending watchdog significantly downgraded its economic growth forecast.
The Office of Budget Responsibility said growth would be below two per cent for the next five years, the worst growth forecast since 1983.
It also classed one in five of the Chancellor’s policies as “high” or “very high” risk strategies that were based on too little data and unpredictable economic assumptions.
However Mr Hammond remained bullish about Britain’s prospects, saying the economy “continues to confound those who talk it down” and warning doubters that: “Those who underestimate Britain do so at their peril.”
He said: “We are at a turning point in our history, and we resolve to...embrace change, not hide from it”.
He added that Britain will: “Seize the opportunities which lie within our grasp and build on Britain’s great global success story... we have no doubts. We choose the future.”
Having been warned that his job was on the line if his Budget flopped, Mr Hammond appeared to have done enough to stay in Number 11 for now, with Tory MPs praising his “better than expected” performance.
Boris Johnson, the Brexiteer Foreign Secretary, described it as a “great Budget” and the Chancellor was given a positive reception when he addressed the backbench 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs hours after his address. One MP said there was “no talk of him losing his job”.
Although the Budget stopped short of radical reboot of economic policy that some had called for, he avoided the sort of blunder that forced an about-turn after the spring budget after he broke a manifesto pledge by raising National Insurance contributions.
Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s former chief of staff who had a famously difficult relationship with the Chancellor, said that he “passed the test” but only after being forced to abandon his self-imposed rule that extra spending should be funded through extra revenue, rather than borrowing.
Mr Hammond’s most eye-catching announcement was the abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers on properties costing up to £300,000, effective immediately. For those living in London and other expensive areas, the first £300,000 will be free of stamp duty on properties costing up to £500,000.
The Treasury said the policy, which followed a Daily Telegraph campaign on the issue, would benefit 1 million home buyers over the next five years, taking 80 per cent of first time buyers out of stamp duty and saving them an average £1,660.
Mr Hammond told first time buyers that “we send a message to the next generation that getting on the housing ladder is not just a dream of your parents’ past but a reality for your future”.
He said he wanted young people to grow up with the “same sense of boundless opportunity” that he has always had.
It later emerged that the idea of abolishing stamp duty was first raised by Downing Street as a possible manifesto pledge before the election.
Insiders said it was eventually dropped and was “not as refined” as the policy announced by Mr Hammond.
The OBR gave the policy a lukewarm response, saying it would lead to higher house prices and suggesting only 3,500 more people per year would be able to afford their first time as a result.
Mr Hammond also announced a £15bn package of cash, loans and loan guarantees to back up a promise of building 300,000 homes per year by 2025 to tackle the housing crisis. The money is in addition to £29bn of measure that had already been announced, bringing the total to £44bn.
There was no money to increase the pay of public sector workers, but Mr Hammond said he would find extra money to give nurses a pay rise if it was recommended by the relevant pay review body. In all, his spending spree amounts to £25bn over the next five years.
Friends of Mr Hammond played down the gloomy long-term economic forecast by insisted that the picture will change completely if a Brexit transition deal can be agreed next month.
One said it was “a Budget for this year and for 2018/19” because of the uncertainty about the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU, adding that movement on Brexit “transforms everything – business sentiment will change overnight”.
Mr Hammond said the economy was “set on a path to a new relationship with our European neighbours and a new future outside the European Union”.
He insisted Britain would “run towards change” and seize new opportunities presented by Brexit leading to an “enormous” prize.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said Mr Hammond’s plans would quickly unravel and result in “misery” for “ordinary people”.
Budget 2017 wrap
It's about time we wrapped up the live blog so let's have a look at what made the headlines in today's Budget and get a few thoughts on whether it will be enough to save Chancellor Philip Hammond's skin.
- Chancellor Philip Hammond has abolished Stamp Duty for first-time buyers on houses up to £300,000 and put together a £44bn war chest to help build 300,000 new homes every year by the mid-2020s.
- The OBR delivered a grim assessment of the UK economy, slashing its GDP growth forecast for this year from 2pc to 1.5pc with growth expected to slow further to 1.4pc next year.
- Mr Hammond also announced a £3bn cushion for Brexit preparations, an extra £2.8bn for the NHS by 2020 and higher taxes for diesel vehicles.
Is it enough to keep him at Number 11? Our experts gave their two cents:
Philip Hammond prizes his reputation for caution and dullness. But there was no sign of cautious Phil today.
Mr Hammond might have got himself out of a tight political spot for the moment, but by throwing caution to the winds, he has shown once again that it is always fiscal prudence that is the first thing to go.
Hammond put in a confident and funny performance today, pulling just enough rabbits from his red box to give some of the more sensible Labour MPs some pause for thought at least. The headline-grabbing scrapping of stamp duty for first time buyers might well inflate property prices in the medium term.
But more importantly, it may prove very popular with a demographic the Tories are desperately trying to woo.
The Chancellor has obviously taken two criticisms deeply to heart. The first - and this was most striking in the stirring opening passages of his Budget address - was that he is not a “vision guy”. His chronic failure to inspire - or even to look as if he might have some idea in his head too large to fit on a balance sheet - has clearly gone home.
The first ten minutes of his speech were devoted to cosmic themes of challenge, opportunity, a future full of change and ever more possibilities, etc etc. You could almost have forgotten that all this infinite potential was set in the context of historically disastrous growth figures.
Too much focus on metro mayors’ areas, business chief says
Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry told The Telegraph that one of biggest holes in the Budget was that regions with city mayors had got far more attention than those without.
“Too much focus on the metro regions risks leaving the rest of the country behind when it comes to transport infrastructure,” she said.
The other big miss was the "development part" of the package of measures proposed for research and development. The “D”, said Fairbairn, was the bit most needed in order to boost productivity in UK.
“Take up of newly created technology and its adaptation for businesses is the most important way to improve production levels,” she said.
She added that she hoped steps to address these productivity issues would be laid out in Monday’s Industrial Strategy White Paper.
Helen Pidd, North of England editor of the Guardian agreed tweeting that Yorkshire's regional politics had meant it missed out, because of "not getting their act together on the mayoral front".
What the Budget means for you, Philip Hammond and the economy
There's a gold mine of content on the Telegraph website to find out how the Budget affects the economy and your finances. Here's just a tiny selection of what can be found online here today:
- From income tax to alcohol duty, Personal Finance editor Richard Evans has laid out all the key changes to your finances here.
- If you want to know more about the Budget's flagship Stamp Duty policy, Sam Meadows and Richard Dyson have explained more here.
- Sophie Christie has taken a more general look at all the key announcements here.
- And you can see whether our experts think Philip Hammond has done enough to save his skin here.
Where will the stamp duty changes be felt most?
Here's a heat map showing the likely impact of stamp duty changes, depending on where a first time buyer is looking to make their purchase, courtesy of data journalist, Patrick Scott.
According to research by HouseSimple, of 80 major UK towns and cities, 49.6pc of properties currently for sale will now be stamp duty exempt for first time buyers.
Hammond will be popular in Aberdeen tonight
The Chancellor will have raised a few cheers in the Granite city by promising tax cuts to encourage more investment in the North Sea oil industry.
Our energy editor, Jillian Ambrose, had this to say:
The North Sea has a firmer grip on a new lease of life after Treasury agreed to tweak the rules of its complex tax arrangements in a bid to boost M&A in the sector.
Oil deals between North Sea giants and growing oil minnows are expected to breathe life back into the market-wracked sector and could bring forward as much as £40bn in new investment.
But to date these have been stifled by a tax accounting quirk which offers relief on the crippling cost of dismantling old fields to the company which has contributed to Government coffers in the past.
Under the new rules, oil majors will be able to transfer their tax history from an oilfield, alongside the asset itself, so the new owner can access the same tax benefits when the field comes to the end of its life.
Oil companies are forecast to spend £53bn winding down their North Sea operations. Almost half that sum is expected to be recouped from the Treasury through tax relief in exchange for the decades of booming tax revenues paid into the Exchequer.
Deirdre Michie, chief executive at industry trade association Oil and Gas UK, was unsurprisingly pleased:
“Following hard on the heels of recent merger and acquisition activity, today’s announcements are very good news indeed for the UK’s offshore oil and gas sector.
"After three difficult years, they reinforce the gathering strength of belief in the future of the UK North Sea as we move slowly out of the downturn caused by the oil price slump.
A relatively warm response from the business community
After ruffling feathers within the small business community with his Spring Budget, Philip Hammond's proposals today seem to have been given the thumbs up by small business owners.
Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said that today's spending plan will lessen the impact of business rate rises on hard-pressed firms across the UK.
Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses national chairman, agreed that small firms will welcome today's proposals:
"It was good to see the Chancellor’s speech acknowledge our concerns about the VAT threshold. Dragging thousands of more small firms into the hugely complex VAT regime would have caused a significant drag on output at an already challenging time for businesses."
Is the OBR overcompensating for past mistakes?
Those were some pretty grim forecasts on GDP growth and productivity from the OBR but were they a bit too gloomy?
EY Item Club's chief economic adviser Howard Archer said after years of being incorrectly optimistic on productivity, its forecast is now erring on the side of caution.
Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK, commented that the downgrades overshadow the "generally good news on public finances so far this fiscal year".
She added that today's Budget reduces the Treasury's war chest for any emergency spending in the event the economy requires an additional boost.
Budget snap reaction: More action needed on productivity
Professor Sir Keith Burnett is hopeful that there will be more progress on productivity in Monday’s Industrial Strategy white paper, as he felt it was seriously lacking the budget.
As an advisor on infrastructure to the Treasury and president of the UK Science council, he had hoped for action to encourage innovation, as an essential way to boost the UK’s pay, but lifting productivity levels.
“Reducing tax on research does not necessarily lead to more innovation,” he told the Telegraph.
Instead, funding was needed to boost Innovate UK’s efforts on catapult centres, as a proven way to get new ideas that could transform businesses from universities into industries.
Budget 2017: How the pound reacted
The Budget has received a muted reaction on the markets with the pound nudging up against the dollar and stuck in flat territory against a basket of currencies after an initial burst of enthusiasm.
As discussed before, the pound's reaction to today's Budget is likely to do less with the Chancellor's policies and more to do with whether his performance secures his position at Number 11.
The ramifications for the pound won't be clear for a couple of days, according to Carlo Alberto De Casa, Chief Analyst at ActivTrades.
"As well as Brexit negotiations, the City’s reaction to this budget and the subsequent sterling movement is likely going to focus on two things - if the Chancellor’s speech has maintained confidence in his party and if it will inspire any growth in the UK economy. Neither will be clear for a few days at least."
Government to offload RBS stake
Our eagle-eyed banking correspondent Iain Withers has spotted that the Government has hinted at how it will begin reducing its 71pc stake in RBS, a hangover from the financial crisis.
He has all the details here:
The Treasury has given guidance on when it expects to start selling its 71pc stake in RBS which it acquired when it bailed out the bank at the height of the financial crisis.
It is forecasting making £15bn from selling around two thirds of its holding over the next six years. RBS's shares are trading around 271p today - well below the generally agreed break-even price of 502p - so taxpayers could be set for a big loss. In May this year the Treasury returned Lloyds to the private sector, making a slim profit on its stake in the bank.
The Treasury also revised up the amount it expects to make from its two banking taxes - the levy and surcharge - over the next six years by £1.1bn to £24.5bn.
Housing rabbit in the hat could actually push up prices
Our housing reporter Isabelle Fraser has provided a few thoughts on how Mr Hammond's housing plan could actually push up prices.
Outside London the average first-time buyer property will pay no stamp duty, and those in London will pay around £5,500, down from £10,500.
Some have argued that this rabbit in the hat could in fact push up prices by increasing demand - and it also doesn't affect the high deposits that still must be paid - which is on average £94,000 in London.
The Chancellor also announced £44bn to funding for housing - but that isn't the £50bn that communites secretary asked for - it also includes loans and guarantees as well.
UK housebuilders Berkeley, Barratt Developments, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey have all slipped to the bottom of the FTSE 100 in reaction to the Chancellor's proposals.
Budget snap reaction: A more generous Budget than expected
The snap reaction to the Budget is filling up my inbox so let's have a look at what the experts are saying to today's spending plan.
The Chancellor has defied the OBR's gloomier outlook and found the money to give a more generous Budget than many had expected, according to Capital Economics chief economist Jonathan Loynes.
"There may some doubt over the validity of some of these revenue sources and concerns that Mr Hammond has bent his own fiscal rules. Nonetheless, the net effect of the changes has been to ease back on the pace of austerity over the coming years, with the fiscal stance now tightening by less than 0.5% of GDP next year and even less in the outer years of the forecast."
The pendulum has swung too far towards younger voters, according to Ageon pensions director Steven Cameron.
"We should remember that the ‘golden age of retirement’ recent retirees are experiencing is not predicted to last. Fewer will retire with generous final salary pensions and may find themselves property rich but pension poorer.
“We’d like the Chancellor to go a step further and cut stamp duty for those downsizing or buying cheaper properties. This would have the double benefit of freeing up family homes for families while boosting funds to pay for retirement."
Budget 2017: 10 key takeaways
Chancellor Philip Hammond has abolished Stamp Duty for first-time buyers on houses up to £300,000. Housing was undoubtedly the centre piece of the Chancellor's Budget with a £44bn housing war chest put together to help build 300,000 new homes every year by the mid-2020s.
An increase in vehicle tax for diesel cars was unveiled but "white van men, and women" will be spared.
The OBR has slashed its GDP growth forecasts for the UK. It now expects the UK economy to grow by 1.5pc compared to March's 2pc forecast while next year growth will slow to 1.4pc.
A £3bn cushion has been set aside for any Brexit shocks.
Mr Hammond pledged to make the finance and technology sectors the backbone of the UK economy with £500m to be invested in 5G and full fibre broadband and £400m for electric car infrastructure.'
An extra £2.8bn has been set aside for the NHS with £350m made available immediately to help it cope with winter demand.
Business rates to be reshaped, saving businesses £2.3bn by bringing forward a change to how they're calculated.
Income tax personal allowance will increase to £11,850 and the higher rate threshold to £46,350.
The 26-30 discount rail card was announced as expected.
A £1.5bn package has been put together to address concerns on universal credit
Key points from Jeremy Corbyn's Budget response
While we digest all the key points from the Budget, let's have a look at what Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said in response to the Government's spending plans.
- Austerity remains, but the deficit has not disappeared either, Corbyn notes as he points out that pay is now lower than it was in 2010, and the UK is now growing more slowly than the rest of the G7.
- He acknowledges that there are some "half-decent proposals" being taken on by the government, including the £44bn combined package to tackle housing.
- He welcomes both the abolition of stamp duty for first time buyers, and progress on business rates, but says that there should be an annual re-evaluation of these taxes.
- He claims that the NHS will still be short of the money it needs, pointing to the fall in the GP numbers. "We'll wait for the small print" on the money promised, Corbyn says.
- The government is "weak and unstable" and "no longer fit for office" he concludes.
Chancellor finishes on high with Stamp Duty cut
He finishes on a high with that Stamp Duty pledge with housing undoubtedly the centre piece of Mr Hammond's Budget.
The Chancellor has cut Stamp Duty all together for first time buyers on homes worth less than £300,000 and for the first £300,000 on purchases up to £500,000.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is now giving his response to the Budget.
Stamp Duty abolished for first-time buyers on homes up to £300,000
Stamp duty has been abolished for first-time buyers for homes worth up to £300,000.
Successive governments have failed to build enough homes, the Chancellor says.
Help to Buy has helped 320,000 get a home, he adds. But Sajid Javid will be disappointed; the £44bn of capital, loans and guarantees is not quite the cash committment of £50bn he wanted.
£44bn of funding promised over five years to help Government hit 300,000 new homes target
Here's what Mr Hammond has promised on housing:
- Hammond says any local council that does not have enough cash to improve housing safety can ask central Government for more financial help. With £28m provided to Kensington for mental health services following the Grenfell fire. A homelessness taskforce, along with a £28m fund for key areas is set up to tackle rough sleeping by 2027.
- Councils will be able to charge a 100pc council tax premium on empty properties.
- He highlights how the rate of young people owning their home has plummeted in recent years but defends the Government's record on housing, adding that there is no single magic bullet on the issue.
- Over the next five years, £44bn of funding will be provided to build 300,000 homes every year.
Small businesses provided some relief by Chancellor
Mr Hammond gets a big cheer after saying that he will not be reducing the VAT threshold for small businesses from £85,000 and business rates will be based on CPI from RPI two years earlier, saving companies around £2.3bn.
He will also extend the £1,000 discount for small pubs to March 2019 while future business rate revaluations will take place every three years.
Hammond promises extra £2.8bn for the NHS
Lots of announcements to get through here.
- Income tax personal allowance will increase to £11,850 and the higher rate threshold to £46,350.
- Now for the NHS: "We will always back it", the Chancellor says, reiterating the promise of free at the point of use treatment.
- While £10bn is promised by the end of the parliament, outside the spending review process, Hammond promises an extra £2.8bn for the NHS in England. There will £350m given (a memorable figure!) immediately and the balance fully paid by 2020.
- Nurses - as expected - are due for a pay review, if not an immediate rise.The health secretary Jeremy Hunt is tasked, by the Chancellor with taking forward union concerns to the independent pay review commission, and Hammond promises to make funds available for a pay rise, depending on the outcome.
- The 26-30 discount rail card that has been splashed over the press in the last couple of days also makes an appearance.
Top 1pc paying more income tax than under Labour
The top 1pc are paying a greater share of income tax than under Labour's leadership, the Chancellor digs.
The Chancellor boasts about how the national living wage is putting money in the public's pocket, adding that from April the National Living Wage will rise 4.4% from £7.50 an hour to £7.83.
He says that he will increase tax on low-quality alcoholic drinks but duties on other alcoholic drinks will be frozen.
That one got a cheer in the chamber.
Chancellor tackles Universal Credit concerns
The Chancellor has said that a £1.5bn package has been put together to address concerns on universal credit, adding that the initial seven-day waiting period will be removed.
He says the package will tackle the biggest issues raised with Universal Credit with greater detail on it to come in the Commons tomorrow. The key one here is that any claimant will get housing benefit for another two weeks - an attempt to tackle the problem of mounting rent arrears associated with the roll out of the new system.
Chancellor pledges money to placate UK's regions
The Chancellor announces that an additional £300m will put towards the HS2 railway infrastructure and has pledged money to help kick-start the North Sea oil industry again.
Mr Hammond caves on the Scottish VAT issue, offering refunds on VAT for Scottish emergency services. He also offers city deals across the UK with a £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund promised for regional transport investment.
That's £2bn extra for the Scottish Government. There's also a promise for £1.2bn more for the Welsh Government and an extra £650m for a Northern Ireland Executive
Old diesel cars to be hit by additional taxes
Gove's Blue Planet action on plastics has made it into the Budget. The Chancellor will investigate taxes on single-use plastics while from April 2018, as feared, diesel cars that don't meet air quality standards will be hit by additional tax. But "no white van man, and no white van woman" will be hit by the measures, the Chancellor says.
As widely trailed on education, the Government gives £40m to train maths teachers and creates a new £600 Maths Premium for schools for every additional pupil who takes A level or Core maths.
Chancellor announces investments in new technologies
The borrowing forecast for 2018-19 has also been revised down from £40.8bn to £39.5bn.
Those who underestimate Britain do so at their peril, the Chancellor says, as he describes the finance and technology sectors as the bankbone of the future global economy.
Mr Hammond says that the Government will make a £500m investment in 5G and full fibre broadband and a £400m investment fund for electric car infrastructure.
He also announces a clean air fund to improve the quality of air in UK urban areas and says that he wants the UK to be a leader in reducing plastic waste.
He adds that the excise duty on older diesel cars will rise.
OBR slashes GDP growth forecasts
The OBR has slashed the UK's growth forecast for 2017 from March's 2pc estimate to 1.5pc while next year GDP is expected to be 1.4pc compared to the 1.6pc forecast earlier this year.
It's not all bad news, however. Inflation will peak at 3pc this quarter and the OBR's deficit forecast for the current financial year has fallen from £58.3bn to £39.9bn.
Hammond says that the OBR expects public debt to peak this year.
Hammond jokes about cough sweets and Gove
Philip Hammond makes a cough sweets joke and Theresa May hands the Chancellor a pack from her own supply.
He's on a roll! He moves onto the OBR's forecasts and jokes that he will now use the "long, economicy words", referencing Michael Gove's rumoured auditions for his job at recent Cabinet meetings.
Hammond welcomes the OBR's forecast, saying that there will be another 600,000 people in work by 2023.
Chancellor sets the scene
The “UK economy confounds those who try to talk it down” Hammond quips as he begins his second Budget. The Budget will “seize opportunities” for Britain post-Brexit, the Chancellor says.
The country will be prepared for every eventuality in negotiations he says, by setting aside a £3bn cushion in addition to the £700m already put towards Brexit preparations, and with a willingness to set aside additional funds.
He adds that the country is making technology a major area of priority, and ensuring that borrowing is managed while families are supported with the rising cost of living.
Chancellor Philip Hammond begins Budget
The prime minister’s grilling is over now and the spotlight has turned to Chancellor Philip Hammond.
Can the Chancellor deliver a Budget that can save his skin? Or has his lack of wriggle room made him a dead man walking?
The Chancellor normally first updates the house with the latest economic statistics including those key OBR GDP growth forecasts.
Theresa May defends Universal Credit rollout
Labour MP Toby Perkins raises concerns about Universal Credit as he suggests the Government's flagship welfare reform is leaving some disabled people significantly worse off.
He says it will "continue to shame her government" if action is not taken to improve the system.
Mrs May says Universal Credit "is helping people get into the workplace and making sure that they keep more of the money that they earn".
Theresa May: 200,000 fewer children in absolute poverty since 2010
Joan Ryan, the Labour MP, says she is proud of her own party's record in government on reducing the number of children living in poverty.
She claims that under the Tories the number of children in poverty is increasing as she asks: "Is the Prime Minister proud of her Government's failure on this?"
Mrs May replies: "We have seen since 2010 600,000 fewer people in absolute poverty - that's a record low."
She also tells the House of Commons that there are now 200,000 fewer children living in absolute poverty than in 2010.
Jeremy Corbyn labels Government's Brexit preparations a 'shambles'
Mr Corbyn claims the Tories do not have a plan for Brexit Britain and that it is in a state of "shambles".
But Theresa May hits back and says: "The party that has no plan on Brexit is the Labour Party."
The Prime Minister then claims that Mr Corbyn "talks down our country and is pessimistic about our future" while she is "optimistic about our future".
She closes her exchange with Mr Corbyn by claiming that "all he offers is a blast from the past".
Theresa May dismisses criticism over tax avoidance crackdown
Jeremy Corbyn moves onto the issue of tax avoidance as he demands the Government do more to crackdown on the practice.
But Mrs May says she will not take lectures from Labour on the issue as she claims that under the Tories "£160billion more (has been) taken as a result of action taken by Conservatives in government".
She says that while Mr Corbyn "may talk about tax avoidance and tax evasion" it is the Conservatives that take action.
Jeremy Corbyn seeks clarity on Government's post-Brexit immigration policy
Mr Corbyn cites recent comments from David Davis about financial workers in the City of London possibly being granted the right to free movement post-Brexit.
He asks which other professions may be granted such rights as he lists a number of sectors, including care workers.
Theresa May replies that the Government will be setting out its post-Brexit immigration policy in the coming months and that it would "take into account the needs of the UK economy" when it does so.
Jeremy Corbyn urges Theresa May to set out clear Brexit policy on Irish border
The Labour leader's first question is on Brexit and the Irish border. He asks Mrs May to set out the Government's policy on the border.
Mrs May says the Government's stance is "very clear". She says the common travel area will continue to operate and that on trade "we will not see a hard border introduced".
Mr Corbyn comes back and says the Government has had 17 months to answer the question on the border but is yet to set out a clear and workable way forward.
Theresa May grilled over grandparents' access to their grandchildren after divorce
The Prime Minister is asked by Tory MP Nigel Huddleston about grandparents being denied access to their grandchildren after a parental divorce.
Mrs May says grandparents play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren and that she sympathises with the "anguish" felt by those who are denied access.
Mrs May says the Government will consider the issue.
Theresa May set to clash with Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs
The Prime Minister will be on her feet shortly in the House of Commons for her weekly clash with the Labour leader.
Usually it is the defining moment of the parliamentary week but today's edition will almost certainly be overshadowed by the Budget which will follow immediately after.
We can also expect today's PMQs to be shorter than usual with Philip Hammond likely to start his financial statement shortly after 12.30pm.
Mrs May has just arrived in the Commons and was greeted with a loud cheer from the Tory benches.
Budget 2017 - what the economists say
We're minutes away from PMQs so before we hand over to our team in Westminster let's get some expert views on how little wriggle room the Chancellor has today.
Pantheon Macro UK economist Samuel Tombs argues that "Spreadsheet Phil" is unlikely to alter his austerity formula.
"Borrowing still is on track greatly to undershoot the OBR's March forecasts, despite October's poor data but the Chancellor will be hemmed-in by weaker GDP forecasts; we expect only a modest giveaway.
"Mr. Hammond likely will raise income tax thresholds, but maintain curbs on public sector pay and benefits."
Iain McCluskey, partner at PwC, said that the Chancellor is handcuffed by Westminster politics and a lack of money to play with.
"Targeted, low cost, simple but popular tax changes are the nirvana he will be shooting for. If only it was that easy. However, there are a few areas he may look to focus on."
Mark Gregory, EY’s chief economist commented "the squeeze on available resources couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Chancellor and the UK economy".
"Growth is slowing and business confidence is falling and the UK needs to invest to prepare for Brexit, as well as adjust to technological change.
"We need the Government to lay out bold measures that could improve the business investment climate, increase productivity and improve supply chains, but the chances of a bold Budgetare slim."
Budget 2017- what we can expect
Just before PMQs begins let's have a quick look at the state of the UK economy and what we can expect from today’s Budget:
- No grand spending plans, as poor productivity means forecasts for UK growth have been revised down, limiting Hammond’s room for spending
- The key areas where spending has been trailed are housing; 300,000 target for news homes with £5bn the figure so far mooted and business investment and skills; plans for £80bn investment in research and development and a boost for £177m for maths and science teaching. Public sector pay and stamp duty could also make an appearance.
- While Government borrowing is at its lowest in a decade in the financial year to date, the OBR is expected to leave the Chancellor little headroom in today's Budget by slashing its GDP and productivity growth forecasts.
Hammond feeling the heat from both sides on spending
A reminder that Hammond is feeling the heat from both sides on spending. He is being urged by the opposition and some of his own colleagues to boost spending but is also under pressure not to borrow to lift spending, in order to continue efforts to reduce the public debt.
Although public sector borrowing is at its lowest in a decade, public sector borrowing in October was £1bn higher than hoped, leaving Chancellor Philip Hammond in a tight spot ahead of what is already being called the "boxed-in Budget" on Wednesday.
Stamp duty exemption for first-time buyers mooted
In a letter to the Telegraph, economic think tanks have called for an end to stamp duty, claiming it damages the housing market and an exemption for first-time buyers is rumoured to be part of Mr Hammond's spending plans.
What's at stake for Hammond?
Labour has claimed that the Chancellor is not “living in the real world”. As part of a lengthy wishlist, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has called for a million homes to be built - of which half, he says, ought to be social housing, and an “emergency budget” to end austerity with big public sector pay giveaways.
Momentum, the pressure group behind Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership, have called for a trebling of council tax to more than £10,000 for people living in large properties.
And there’s talk of a war between the Treasury and Number 10.
Hammond was already regarded as a media liability who is “not allowed out” to talk to the press, but the poor reaction to his slip-ups and “uninspiring” pre-Budget interviews have provoked Number 10’s wrath.
The Prime Minister is thought to have made the Treasury push out a last minute announcement on schools, in order to bolster interest in today’s Budget. One Cabinet source described it as “the worst Budget build-up in history” and a serving minister said: “...he can have no excuses. It is his Budget, he will stand or fall by it.”
Expect a reshuffle if Hammond’s messaging doesn’t hit home. Environment secretary, Michael Gove, has, reportedly, already been auditioning to replace Hammond, by displaying his flair for economic jargon.
Public services the top priority for UK households
But, as Michael Gove famously pointed out, it's not all about what the experts think.
Homelyfe's survey shows that public services (45pc), personal tax (26pc) and housing (20pc) are the three most important aspects of the Budget for the public.
An attempt to solve the housing crisis is expected to be one of Mr Hammond's Budget centre pieces and the survey indicated that new homes is the public's top housing priority (21pc) while just 13pc favour changes to Stamp Duty.
Budget is unlikely to have impact on the pound but subsequent political instability could
The pound is showing no pre-Budget nerves on currency markets this morning but, with little room for manoeuvre, MUFG currency analyst Lee Hardman believes that Mr Hammond's spending plans are unlikely to have a "material impact" on the pound.
He added that subsequent political instability if the Chancellor is axed could cause sterling to wobble on currency markets:
"If the budget is badly received, there will be intensified pressure on Theresa May, particularly from hard Brexit supporters, to appoint a new Chancellor. The pound would likely prove sensitive to any further signs of political instability at this crucial phase in the Brexit talks."
Sterling is currently bobbing around in flat territory against the dollar at $1.3250.
No 'silver bullet' and 'magic money tree' odds signal gloomy Budget
And if you were wondering, here's Kaya Mar's visual take on today's Budget. I will leave out his depiction of George Osbourne's 2012 Budget, it's not a sight for sore eyes.
If the bookies' odds are anything to go for, today might be quite a gloomy affair.
The odds on the Chancellor mentioning no "silver bullet" to solve the nations problems is 4/6 while "magic money tree" is evens, according to Betway.
"I give up" is at 33/1 for those of you who fancy a flutter.
Looking back to the Spring Budget - the National Insurance nightmare
No one will forget the U-turn on National Insurance contributions (NICs) that swiftly followed the Spring budget.
Hammond planned to raise NICs by 2pc for self-employed workers, only to have to backtrack following fierce criticism - including from Tory MPs fearful that it broke a manifesto commitment. He has put off any shake up of the tax until 2019.
Other announcements, which did stand the test of time, were a raise from £11,000 to £11,500 for the personal tax allowance and a raise for the higher-rate, 40pc, income tax threshold to £45,000. Social care saw a boost of £2bn over three years, and T-levels, a new form of vocational training, were introduced.
Can the Budget solve the housing crisis?
Not only is a radical plan to build new homes at the top of many people's Budget wishlist but it's also high ranking in the struggling construction sector.
The Government's Help to Buy scheme underpins around 35-40pc of new build sales and housebuilding shares climbed when the Chancellor unveiled a £10bn extension to Help to Buy at the Conservative Party conference.
But can the Government's pledge to build 300,000 new homes a year solve the UK's housing crisis?
ETX Capital analyst Neil Wilson argues that housebuilders might not be equipped to deal with a "Macmillan-style splurge" on new homes.
He added on rumoured Stamp Duty changes:
"The headline-grabbing policy tweak being talked about ahead of the Budget is about ditching Stamp Duty for any first-time buyer.
"First Time Buyers make up around one third to one half of private completions for housebuilders and therefore such a move would be extremely net positive for companies."
Daniel Wood, a construction expert at Gowling WLG, also believes that the Government's housebuilding proposals won't be able to "supercharge" the UK's sluggish construction output either.
What the Chancellor is expected to tackle
Let's have a look at some of the key areas where we might see some movement from the Chancellor today:
- Housing: from Theresa May’s chief of staff, to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, the pressure on Hammond to think big on housing is huge. Reportedly, he will find £5bn for house building, with a target of 300,000 new homes a year - short of the £50bn Javid has previously called for
- The public sector pay cap: with a lid of 1pc on pay rises in the public sector as inflation rises to 3pc, calls have been mounting for a more generous offer on pay. Hammond has already broken the 1pc threshold for prison guards and police officers
- Business investment and skills: Hammond announced plans to boost maths teaching - with £600 to be paid for each student taking the subject at A-level as part of £177m to boost sciences in schools. He’s also revealed an £80bn spend on research and development over the next decade
Government borrowing at lowest in a decade but Chancellor restricted by outlook
Hopes that the Chancellor would use today’s Budget to loosen the purse strings were dealt a blow yesterday by October’s deficit coming in £1bn higher than economists had expected.
While Government borrowing is still at its lowest level in a decade in the financial year to date, the OBR expects most of the deterioration in public finances to occur in the second half of the year, restricting Mr Hammond’s wriggle room today.
The "pretty poor medium-term outlook" for public finances will stop the Chancellor from giving any significant giveaways today, according to Capital Economics' Paul Hollingsworth.
Why Britain's lagging productivity will box in Chancellor
This will be a budget where the statistics revealed by the Chancellor might well prove more interesting than his spending announcements.
To understand why, you have to look back to 2010. Back then, the Office for Budget Responsibility predicted productivity - output per hour - would return to pre-financial crisis form, rising by about 15pc from 2009 to 2016, but it has not.
After seven years of forecasting productivity levels incorrectly, the financial watchdog has given in and lowered its expectations for economic growth. And, because of strict rules imposed by the Chancellor, the deficit can only be 2pc of GDP. So, if GDP is smaller than hoped then so is the pile of cash that Philip Hammond draw on.
That’s why this is a "boxed-in Budget", and that’s why the forecasts from the OBR announced by Hammond will be just as, if not more, important that his spending plans.
Agenda: Chancellor has little headroom in make or break Budget
Chancellor Philip Hammond's relationship with Number 10 is on the brink ahead of his make or break Budget with the prime minister's team concerned that "Spreadsheet Phil" will fail to pull enough rabbits out of the hat to inspire the public and save his job.
While the Government is comfortably undershooting the OBR’s borrowing estimate in the financial year to date, the OBR is expected to leave the Chancellor little headroom in today's Budget by slashing its GDP and productivity growth forecasts.
Mr Hammond’s room for scope is limited even further by his preference to leave aside some Brexit “rainy day” money but the Chancellor is still expected to tackle the housing crisis, bolster the UK's technology credentials and could loosen the restrictions on public sector pay in an attempt to woo voters.