UK Chancellor George Osborne has delivered his Autumn statement to the House of Commons.
Tax credits: Controversial changes ditched altogether. Extra borrowing will make up the shortfall in the first few years of the parliament
Housing: Stamp duty increased 3% for buy-to-let and second home buyers; 400,000 new affordable homes in England by 2020; new Help to Buy scheme just for London
Police: no cuts to budget
New tax to pay for social care, to be levied by local authorities as a 2% council tax precept
Departmental spending cuts: Transport -37%, Business -17%, Defra -15%, Energy -22%, Culture, Media and Sport -22% (but free museum entry will stay)
Budget surplus: target of £10bn by 2020 maintained
Local governments will be allowed to keep all cash generated from asset sales
Apprenticeship levy set at 0.5% of payroll, with £15,000 allowance to exempt small businesses
OBR forecasts: UK growth outlook remains broadly unchanged from July
Small business rate relief extended for 12 months to April 2017
Science funding protected in real terms for rest of Parliament
By Ferdinando Giugliano, Jonathan Eley and Mark Odell
Welcome to our live election coverage, bringing you the latest reaction to the Tories winning an unexpected majority – taking 331 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons.
Labour’s Ed Miliband, the Liberal Democrats’ Nick Clegg and the UK Independence party’s Nigel Farage have all resigned as leaders of their respective parties. Clegg, deputy PM for the last five years, hung on to his seat but his party lost all but eight of its MPs. Farage failed to win the seat he was contesting.
The Scottish National party also had a triumphant night, trouncing Labour north of the border. (Photo FT/Charlie Bibby)
Mr Cameron made four Cabinet announcements, reappointing George Osborne chancellor of the exchequer – and promoting him to first secretary of state; Theresa May home secretary; Philip Hammond foreign secretary and Michael Fallon defence secretary. The rest of the Cabinet is expected on Monday.
A summary of today’s events
Polling day. Follow our live coverage of the results from 9pm here.
Welcome to the FT’s Live Q and A on the general election. With the polls too close to call and leaders going to unusual lengths to push the vote in their direction, deputy political editor Elizabeth Rigby takes your questions.
Ask away in the comment box to the right. We will start the live Q and A on Wednesday at 12.30 London time.
In the last of four televised events, the leaders of the three main political parties are appearing in a special edition of Question Time on BBC1, just a week ahead of what the polls say will be the closest fought election in modern times.
Each will separately face 30 minutes of questions from a studio audience starting with Conservative prime minister David Cameron, followed by Labour leader Ed Miliband and rounded off by Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister.
By George Parker and Kiran Stacey
UK voters will elect a new parliament in a general election on May 7. Our poll-of-polls tracks all national-level voting intention polling figures going back to the 2010 election – the dots on our chart – and then calculates a rolling score for each party adjusted for recency and different pollsters. Read more
What do betting markets make of the election so far? Well, if anything, they seem as confused as everyone else. Currently punters on Betfair are predicting that the Conservatives will win the most seats but that Labour will form a minority government and that David Cameron will be the next prime minister. Read more
The pre-election poster battle intensified on Tuesday as Labour launched a new image parodying Saatchi & Saatchi’s famous 1979 dole queue montage for Margaret Thatcher, a key moment in the history of visual campaigning. Read more
Leaders of seven of the parties standing in next month’s UK general election are appearing in a one-off TV debate on Thursday night.
This is the only occasion that Conservative prime minister David Cameron will appear on a podium at the same time as any of the others, including his main rival for Number 10 Downing Street, Labour leader Ed Miliband. But in what is predicted to be the closest election in modern times there is as much interest in the smaller parties who could hold the balance of power.
By Mark Odell and Jim Pickard
This week’s data are a timely reminder that with less than seven weeks to go until polling day and Labour and the Tories neck and neck when recently published polls are averaged, the relationship between poll leads and who might become prime minister is not straightforward. Read more
The Romans used to predict the future by examining the entrails of dead animals. These days we use opinion polls, often with similarly haphazard results.
Even some of the most robust Westminster commentators are refusing to make firm bets about how the landscape will look after next May’s general election. It will be the closest fought, most unpredictable, most exciting battle for a generation. Read more
David Cameron has conducted the most wide-ranging reshuffle of his cabinet since taking office, appointing Philip Hammond as foreign secretary and firing Michael Gove as education secretary. Several women, including Nicky Morgan and Elizabeth Truss, have been appointed to the cabinet.
By John Aglionby and Claer Barrett
Four polls have been published in the last 24 hours, all suggesting the same thing: the race for next year’s general election is now neck and neck.
Of course it is a symbolic moment that two of these polls show the Tories two points ahead – they are the first polls to put the governing party in the lead since early 2012. But within the margin of error, the race is essentially tied.
So what has happened in the last few days and weeks to cause Labour to slip from a pretty steady five point lead?
Unfortunately, the Lord Ashcroft poll can’t tell us, as it is the first in a series and so has no previous survey against which we can accurately monitor trends. Even more frustratingly, the ICM and the Populus polls seem to suggest very differing reasons for the poll move. Read more
Ed Miliband’s op-ed for the FT today on Europe has finally crystallised what each of the parties’ European position will be going into next year’s election. But anyone listening to Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary on the Today programme this morning would be forgiven for not understanding exactly what Labour’s position is. This is what he said:
The next Labour government will legislate for a lock that guarantees there cannot be a transfer of power from Britain to the European Union in the future without that in/out referendum. It’s an agenda for reform in Europe, not immediate exit from Europe.
So what does this mean, and how does it compare to the other two parties? Read more
The prime minister surprised the Westminster press corps yesterday when he held a press conference to spell out his action to tackle flooding. It wasn’t just the press conference that surprised – it has been 238 days since his last at Downing Street – but what he said. He told reporters:
Money is no object in this relief effort. Whatever money is needed for, it will be spent.
He repeated that pledge at today’s PMQs, promising a string of spending measures to help relieve the burden on families and businesses. They include: Read more
One of the government’s main tax-cutting drives has been to encourage councils to keep tax rises to a minimum. Ministers have done this in two ways: firstly, by giving councils a cash incentive to freeze council tax; and secondly, by forcing any council that wants to raise tax by 2 per cent or more to put it to a local referendum.
Since that policy began, Eric Pickles, the local government secretary, has been irritated (but perhaps not surprised) to see dozens of councils raising tax by 1.99 per cent – just below the threshold. So recently, as revealed last week in the FT, he began pushing for a lower limit of 1.5 per cent. Read more
Last week, we reported on the suggestion by the BBC’s Nick Robinson that a truce had been agreed by Ed Miliband and David Cameron not to let PMQs descend into a slanging match. Certainly in the first week back after Christmas, we saw a new, civilised tone from both leaders and a rather subdued House having to watch it take place.
If there was ever an agreed truce, it lasted a week.
This week, Miliband led on bank bonuses – an issue on which Labour is currently leading the debate, as we revealed this morning. The Labour leader asked whether Cameron would accede to the request RBS is expected to make for bonuses of over 100 per cent of salary. The question was designed to embarrass the PM, who does intend to let RBS have their way. Read more
We revealed in this morning’s FT that the Treasury is making it clear to investors in UK debt that if Scotland goes independent, the rest of the UK will still be liable for the debt that it has issued.
In other words, however the debt is carved up, if an independent Scotland defaults on one of its repayments, it will be English, Welsh and Northern Irish taxpayers who will have to pay up.
In one sense, this seems to give Alex Salmond a much stronger hand in any negotiation with the rest of the UK (again, if Scotland becomes independent) about how assets and liabilities should be carved up. After all, if the UK is guaranteeing Scotland’s debts, Salmond could turn round and insist his government will only keep up with repayments in return for another of his demands – for example, being allowed to use sterling. Read more