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Budget 2024: Jeremy Hunt expected to freeze fuel duty again - after dire opinion poll ratings for Tories

5 March 2024, 08:36 | Updated: 5 March 2024, 08:40

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt out jogging in Westminster the day before the Budget
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt out jogging in Westminster the day before the Budget. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Jeremy Hunt is set to extend the 5p cut in fuel duty once again in this year's Budget, which is expected to cost the Treasury around £5 billion.

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It is the 14th year in a row that the fuel duty freeze would be in place.

A damning poll issued yesterday put Tory support at a 40-year low and predicted the party could have as few as 25 seats after the next election. Labour, meanwhile, would storm to victory with 537 MPs.

Jeremy Hunt will deliver the Budget after PMQs tomorrow.

Follow the latest developments live below

Overview of the Budget - end of live blog coverage

For an overview of all the key announcements from today's Budget, you can read more here

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Sir Keir: ‘Britain deserves better and Labour are ready’ for an election

Finalising his reaction to the Budget, the Labour leader says today “could have been a moment of contrition, an apology for the chaos they have inflicted”.

But the result was instead the same “vicious downward spiral”, he says. 

“Five more years and it will only get worse,” he adds. “It's time to break a habit of 14 years.”

He finally urges the Prime Minister to confirm May 2 as the date as the next general election. 

Tory plans made of ‘same old formula’

Sir Keir says the UK needs a better plan, one with a plan for growth and wealth creation across the entire country. 

He shot down statistics previously quoted by the Chancellor, claiming that the country has grown quicker than other European countries. 

“They'll be shocked to learn this is a statistical slight of hand,” he says. 

Taxes remain at ’70-year high,’ Sir Keir says

The Labour leader says the UK is still battling the highest tax burden for 70 years despite the Chancellor’s Budget announcement. 

Sir Keir accuses Tories of smiling ‘as the ship goes down’

The opposition leader says the government has continued to "give with one hand and take even more with the other”. 

He says the Tories are “unable to generate” the growth the country needs amid a recession. 

They lost control of the economy, they sent interest rates through the roof, they made working people pay," he says. 

"That record is how the British people will judge today's cut, because the whole country can see exactly what is happening." 

Sir Keir Starmer reacts to Chancellor's Budget

The Labour Party leader has stepped into the despatch box as he reacts to Jeremy Hunt's Budget. 

Vape duty announced alongside tobacco duty increase

A new duty will be introduced to vaping products from October 2026 in a bid to “discourage non-smokers from taking up vaping”.

Mr Hunt says he will also introduce a one-off increase in tobacco duty “to maintain the financial incentive to choose vaping over smoking."

High income child benefit threshold raised

The threshold will increase from £50,000 to £60,000. 

He adds: "We will raise the top of the taper of which it's withdrawn to £80,000.

"That means no one earning under £60,000 will pay the charge, taking 170,000 families out of paying it altogether."

This, he says, will mean families with children will save an average of £1,300 next year. 

Mr Hunt says he will look at introducing a new rule to make the benefit apply to collective household income, rather than on an individual basis. 

He says he aims to make this change from April 2026. 

Chancellor says ‘non-dom’ system to be axed

"The government will abolish the current system for non-doms," Mr Hunt says. 

A new system will be introduced to replace the “outdated concept of domicile” with one that is “fairer and competitive”. 

"From April 2025, new arrivals to the UK will not be required to pay any tax on foreign income and gains for their first four years of UK residency, a more generous regime than at present and one of the most attractive offers in Europe."

After four years they will pay the same tax rate as those in the UK. 

National Insurance to be cut by 2p - providing £450 annual boost to average employee

Mr Hunt says national insurance will be cut from 10% to 8% to provide a boost of £450 to the average employee in the UK. 

National insurance for self-employed individuals will be cut from 8% to 6% - providing a boost of £350 on average. 

The Chancellor says "it means 27 million employees will get an average tax cut of £900" when combined with the previous cut in Autumn. 

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