UK politics

Judith Evans

Are you worried about the woes of “generation rent”? Perplexed by measures to dampen the buy-to-let market? Eager to buy a Starter Home? Seeking answers on the housing bill, Right to Buy or Help to Buy?

On Wednesday April 20 2016 between 11am and midday (GMT), Brandon Lewis, housing minister, will answer readers' questions on housing and home ownership in a live webchat.

Moderated by Judith Evans, property correspondent

 

Judith Evans

The housing crisis has reached the top of the political agenda, with even the prime minister, David Cameron, saying he worries about his children being able to afford their own homes.

Brandon Lewis, housing minister, will appear here on the Westminster blog at 11am on Wednesday April 20 to answer your questions on housing and home ownership in a live webchat. Read more

Pollsters should be more transparent about their methodology and more quizzical about people’s intention to vote, a wide-ranging review of last year’s election polling disaster has recommended – as well as suggesting that Britain needs fewer, but better, political polls.

Polling companies were left embarrassed last year by the surprise Conservative election win, which none of them had accurately predicted. Polls showed Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck in the run-up to the vote last May, but on the night the Tories won an outright majority with a lead of 7 percentage points in the popular vote. Read more

Experts pinpoint why online polls and those made by phone show wide discrepancy Read more

George Osborne’s eighth Budget comes at a time of slowing growth and with the government split over Europe. The chancellor needs to show he still has a grip on the public finances, while keeping Conservative backbenchers happy.

Key developments:

  • Economic outlook – growth forecast cut this year from 2.4 per cent to 2 per cent.

  • Public finances – debt to GDP forecast revised up from 81.7 per cent to 82.3 per cent for 2016-17.

  • Government spending – new annual cuts of £3.5bn by 2020.

  • Corporation tax – to fall from 20 per cent at the start of this parliament to 17 per cent by 2020.

  • Sugar tax – new levy on sugary drinks to tackle childhood obesity.

  • Capital gains tax – cut from 28 per cent to 20 per cent.

  • ISAs – limit to rise from £15,000 to £20,000.

  • Tax-free persons tax allowance – raised to £11,500, effecting 31m people

  • Higher rate tax threshold – raised to £45,000

 

Why is one measure of EU immigration to Britain nearly three times as high as the other?

That is the question Westminster’s Brexiteers are asking this week. The answer could shape the arguments both for and against Britain leaving the EU. Read more

In the next four months Britain will be inundated with opinion polls. As the Leave and Remain camps gear up for Britain’s first referendum on its relationship with Europe for four decades, the stakes are high.

But this time last year the nation also pored over an array of polls during the general election campaign, and yet those polls proved unreliableRead more

Kate Allen

Campaign website 38 Degrees has become the bane of many MPs’ lives for the vast tide of correspondence its 3m members generate. But its founder David Babbs hopes it will come to be seen as a benefit to British democracy. Here he discusses with FT political correspondent Kate Allen how the site came about, its greatest victories to date – and how he’s now turning his members’ fire on the corporate world …

  Read more

Kate Allen

More than 26,000 British farmers have not yet received annual European subsidy payments and many are facing financial difficulties as a result, a committee of MPs has been told.

Britain is facing £180m fines a year over the failure by the Rural Payments Agency to distribute the cash because of overruns on a big IT project. Read more

Sebastian Payne

Junior doctors on the picket line outside the Royal London Hospital in east London, as a doctors go on strike for 24 hours in a dispute with the government over new contracts. PRESS ASSOCIATION

Today’s junior doctor’s strike differs from other industrial disputes for a simple reason: people like doctors. In recent times, the government has managed to paint Tube drivers as dinosaurs who are standing in the way of technological progress. But it’s much harder to do that with doctors, so the public is firmly behind the strikers. Read more

UK Chancellor George Osborne has delivered his Autumn statement to the House of Commons.

Key points:

  • 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

 

Jim Pickard

Recent appointments by Jeremy Corbyn have shown a Labour leader in no mood to compromise with his internal critics: they include John McDonnell, Seumas Milne and Andrew Fisher.

The latest possible name in the frame to join the leader’s office is equally controversial: Karie Murphy. Read more

Chancellor George Osborne has been freed from the shackles of coalition government to deliver his seventh Budget but the first purely Conservative Budget in almost two decades.

Although dark clouds are gathering in the eurozone, Britain’s economic recovery continues at a steady pace and the public finances are slowly improving, giving him the opportunity to shape the economy, public finances and tax system for the next five years.

Mark Odell, Elizabeth Paton, Jonathan Eley and Ferdinando Giugliano

 

Jim Pickard

George Osborne is encouraging new Conservative MPs to join a Treasury “support committee” as the chancellor looks to cultivate loyalists among the new 2015 intake in preparation for a leadership bid as early as this parliament.

The chancellor held a sandwich lunch with new MPs where he told the new 74-strong new Tory intake his department was “where the action is” as he pointed to protégés – Sajid Javid, business secretary, Amber Rudd, energy secretary, Greg Hands, chief whip – who had risen through his Treasury team. Read more

Where now for this weary union? After the general election triumphs of the Scottish National party and the Conservatives, voices in both parties are calling for the UK government to find a new constitutional settlement. But what might this mean?

I think there are four possible – but not equally possible – options for what might happen in the short-term, roughly taken to mean the next year, before the 2016 elections to the Scottish parliament in Holyrood. They are not necessarily exclusive. Read more

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

***May 7***

Polling day. Follow our live coverage of the results from 9pm here.

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Jim Pickard

Labour strategists are blaming the likely loss of at least 30 seats in Scotland for projections suggesting that the party could get only a handful more MPs than it did in 2010 under the leadership of Gordon Brown.

For decades Labour has been able to outperform the Tories with the same proportion of the total votes because of an imbalance in the electoral system. Read more

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.

 

Okay, the US vice-president hasn’t directly commented on the Scottish National party. But in any analysis of public policy it is important to keep his words in mind:

‘Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.’

 Read more