Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. Chancellor Philip Hammond has presented the 2017 Spring Budget
  2. Budget provides "strong, stable platform for Brexit" Chancellor says
  3. National insurance contributions will rise for the self-employed
  4. £2bn extra for adult social care
  5. Economic growth forecast raised for 2017 to 2%
  6. Borrowing forecast cut to £51.7bn in 2016
  7. Labour: Budget of 'utter complacency'
  8. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Live Reporting

By Dan Macadam and Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good night

Thanks for tuning in. Business Live will be back tomorrow from 6am.

US stocks end lower

US traders
Getty Images

Wall Street markets closed broadly lower after a sharp fall in the price of oil hit energy stocks.

The Dow Jones lost 0.33% to 20,855.73 while the S&P 500 shed 0.23% to 2,362.98. The tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed 0.06%, however, to 5,837.55.

The price of Brent Crude oil slipped 5% to $53.13 on fears that rising US production would offset Opec efforts to curb supply, thereby suppressing prices. 

Britain's debt advantage

Newsnight's policy editor tweets...

Budget boost for Scotland

Philip Hammond
Getty Images

The Scottish government will receive a £350m funding boost as a result of measures  announced in his budget , the chancellor has said.

The additional Barnett formula money will come from increased UK government spending on areas such as education.

Mr Hammond told the House of Commons that the additional funding demonstrated that "we are stronger together in this great United Kingdom".

He also confirmed  additional help for the North Sea oil and gas industry .

Read more here

'No clarity' for Wales after Budget

Philip Hammond with red box outside 11 Downing Street
BBC

The chancellor's Budget gave no clarity on the future of Welsh Government finances, a senior minister has said.

Philip Hammond announced an extra £200m for Wales over four years.

However, Welsh Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said it was still not clear how future UK spending cuts of £3.5bn would affect Welsh public services.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said the Welsh Government had the "freedom to invest" extra cash in their priorities. Read more here

Extra £120m for Northern Ireland Executive

Philip Hammond in Commons
House of Commons

The Northern Ireland Executive will receive a small amount of additional funding as a result of the budget.

There will be an extra £90m for day-to-day spending through to 2019-20 while the capital budget will get an extra £30m through to 2020/21.

Stormont's annual budget for day-to-day spending is around £10bn, while the capital budget is around £1bn.

The amount Stormont will have for day-to-day spending is still expected to fall in 2015-2020. Read more here

Only time will tell?

BBC News Channel

The chancellor kicked off the Budget by laying out his economic forecasts, but Carl Emmerson, deputy director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, told the BBC Mr Hammond has to bear in mind the uncertainties of triggering Article 50.

Forecasts are always going to turn out to be incorrect but I think it's certainly the case at the moment there's more uncertainty, more risk than what we normally have so we shouldn't be surprised if things turn out very, very different to what anyone thinks is going to happen. Let's hope that's because things turn out a lot better but of course it could be that things turn out worse, which gives the Chancellor some reasons for wanting to not spend some of the extra money that's he's managing to bank this year.

Carl Emmerson Deputy director, Institute for Fiscal Studies

Tackling the tax take

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

Delivery bike seen from behind
Reuters

The growth of the gig economy, self-employment and hyper-flexible working - big issues that the chancellor wants to tackle.

Although the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, suggested to the BBC that the government had gone far enough on raising taxes on the self-employed, any companies that use self-employed workers should start looking down the back of the sofa for some money.

Uber and Deliveroo - the Treasury is on your case.

Philip Hammond regularly cites evidence that the growth of self-employment is undermining the tax base - by between £3.5bn and £5bn a year by 2020 potentially. Read more from Kamal here 

Stand up comedy?

Philip Hammond laughing during Budget
PA

The Budget may not have been a laugh a minute, but there were a few lighter moments. 

Not surprisingly, perhaps, one of the chancellor's gags involved the UK's relationship with the EU.

"Overall, public sector net borrowing as a percentage of GDP is predicted to fall from 3.8% last year to 2.6% this year," said Mr Hammond.

"And for those who care about such things, it means we are forecast to meet our 3% EU Stability and Growth pact target this year for the first time in more than a decade. 

"But I won't hold my breath, Mr Deputy Speaker, for my congratulatory letter from Jean-Claude Juncker," he quipped.

Councils welcome relief fund

High Street shoppers
Getty Images

The £300m relief fund for firms hit by rising business rates will help councils identify those that need it the most, according to the Local Government Association.

One of the biggest collectors of business rates, Westminster Council, also welcomed the measure.

“Westminster collects over 8% of national business rates, so we hope that we will be able to use some of this additional local authority funding to reduce the burden on our businesses and encourage growth," said Westminster City Council deputy leader, Robert Davis.

'Budget not the great saviour that savers had hoped for’

BBC Radio 5 live

Money saving expert Martin Lewis examines the government's final spring budget.

What does the Budget mean for savers and investors?

Martin Lewis chatted it through with 5 Live's Anna Foster and tells her that the Budget was not the "great saviour that savers had hoped for".

Rees-Mogg: 'Hard to see' NI rise fits with manifesto

Radio 4 PM

The Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said he's concerned that the National Insurance rise for the self-employed could "reduce the flexibility" that was so beneficial to the UK economy.

Mr Rees-Mogg also said it was "very hard to see" how the policy squared with the precise wording of the Conservative 2015 manifesto, which was "absolutely clear" on not increasing National Insurance. 

Watch: Key Budget points

'Right policies' will boost post-Brexit growth

Shipping containers
Getty Images

The most significant part of today’s budget announcement were the economic growth upgrades for this year, according to the pro-Brexit group, Economists for Free Trade. 

The OBR is now forecasting the UK economy will grow by 2% in 2017, which is closer to the economists' own forecast of 2.3%. 

However, the economists say it's "alarming" that despite a "clear direction" on Brexit, the OBR assumes that the pace of import and export growth will slow down for the next 10 years.

There is simply no basis for such a broad assumption, unless one were to believe that the government will pursue economically self-harming policies. Our research has shown, if we follow the right policies to tariff-free trade, all of which is in our own control, the economy will be supported by an additional 4% growth to GDP."

'Lowest pay rise in over 200 years'

Torsten Bell, head of the Resolution Foundation , says this decade is on course to be the worst for pay growth in over two centuries. 

View more on twitter

How will the Budget affect you?

Do tax changes in the Budget leave you better or worse off?

Use our Budget calculator, developed by Deloitte, to find out how the tax measures may affect you in the coming year.

Budget calculator
BBC
Budget calculator

Budget calculator March 2017

How will the chancellor's Budget affect you?

Read more

Small Budget, big debates

BBC News UK

Philip Hammond
AFP/Getty Images

BBC economics editor Kamal Ahmed says that although it was a relatively small Budget, it contained two big reviews.

The first was on the taxing of work. This will be a huge debating point over the next few years of this government, he says.

The other was on social care, which will enable a major debate about "how we pay for an ageing population".

Who is self-employed?

The Social Market Foundation has produced a timely report examining what occupations have the highest levels of self-employment. 

It found that over half are in highly-skilled jobs - including managers, professionals and skilled trades.

View more on twitter

'Why take the risk?'

Business documents
Getty Images

The boss of tech company UKFast, Lawrence Jones, has reacted strongly to the changes to National Insurance contributions for the self-employed.

He says it's "unquestionably a disincentive for risk takers". 

"It’s grossly unfair to claim they’re levelling out the tax to balance with employees when employees get so many extra rights like sick pay, holiday, pensions and maternity pay. How much is that worth? I’d be thinking 'why take the risk?'" 

Osborne coins it

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

George Osborne
Getty Images

Speaking of chancellors, as we have been all day, Philip Hammond's predecessor George Osborne appears set to make quite a tidy sum when he joins BlackRock, the world's largest fund manager. 

He will earn £650,000 a year for four days a month - no, not a week - for his efforts. 

Mr Osborne's remuneration was revealed today in the Commons register of MPs’ financial interests .

The register also discloses that he raked in close to £800,000 last year for giving 15 speeches.

Hunt: Social care funds will help NHS

BBC News Channel

Jeremy Hunt
BBC

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is asked what impact people would see from the extra £2bn for social care in the Budget.

He hopes it'll mean more people can receive grants from councils for their social care.

It will also take "a lot of pressure off" NHS hospitals, which haven't been able to discharge patients because they can't receive care locally, he says.

Labour argues the NHS also needed a significant cash injection in the Budget. 

Such funding "can only come from a strong economy" and strong public finances, Mr Hunt says. There was still an extra £300m for modernising the NHS and £100m for A&E departments, he adds.

Watch: BBC political editor's verdict on the Budget

'Budget doesn't help ethnic minorities'

Sterling notes and coins
Getty Images

Today’s budget has done nothing to improve the lives of black and minority ethnic families, according to independent race equality think tank, the Runnymede Trust.

The initial assessment of the Budget's impact on ethnic minorities "does not look good", said director Omar Khan.

"The 2% rise in National Insurance contributions for the self-employed will hit those working on low wages with little security in the gig economy. These workers are more likely to be ethnic minorities," he added.

Continued migration

Kathryn Petrie , economist at the Social Market Foundation, highlights that the Office For Business Responsibility is still forecasting inward migration to be over half a million in 2022.

View more on twitter

What do small retailers think?

BBC News asked five shopkeepers to explain how Chancellor Philip Hammond's Spring Budget affects them.

Budget 2017: Shopkeepers give their reaction

Small firms slam NICs hike

The National Insurance rise to 10% next year and 11% in 2019 should be seen for what it is - a £1bn tax hike on those who set themselves up in business. This undermines the Government’s own mission for the UK to be the best place to start and grow a business, and it drives up the cost of doing business. Future growth of the UK’s 4.8 million-strong self-employed population is now at risk. Increasing this tax burden, effectively funded by a reduction in corporation tax over the same period, is the wrong way to go.

Mike Cherry National chairman, Federation of Small Business

Sterling falls following Budget

Pound, dollar and euro notes
Getty Images

The pound is down against the US Dollar following the Budget.

It's fallen by 0.41% to 1.2150.

"There's been some optimism over the upward revision to growth this year, and the lower budget deficit forecasts over the period is obviously favourable for the fundamental picture," said Lee Hardman, an economist with MUFG in London. 

"But overall the main message is yes, that the budget deficit is coming in below their previous forecasts, but they're choosing to save the improvement in the budget deficit rather than to spend those funds, so for the economy that's fairly neutral." 

Sterling's also down by 0.21% against the  euro  at 1.1523 euros. 

Lucas: Budget 'complacent' to challenges

BBC Radio 5 live

Caroline Lucas
BBC

Green Party co-leader and Brighton MP Caroline Lucas has accused the Chancellor of delivering an "incredibly complacent budget that simply misses some of the biggest challenges we face". 

She told BBC Radio 5 live's Tony Livesey air pollution was a "public health emergency" that had not been tackled. Mr Hammond also did not mention anything about public transport investment, she said. 

“It was a squandered opportunity to do things like increasing Vehicle Excise Duty for new diesel vehicles."

Markets muted after Budget

London Stock Exchange sign
Getty Images

There was little change on the London markets following the Budget.

The  FTSE 100  edged down by a mere 4 points or 0.06% to 7,334.61. 

The FTSE 250 rose slightly to 18,931.07, an increase of 45 points or 0.24%.

Promises row

Spectator editor, Fraser Nelson, suggests the Chancellor faces a political backlash over plans to raise national insurance bills for self-employed workers:

View more on twitter

'Right thing to do'

BBC News Channel

Mark Littlewood and Torsten Bell
BBC

But Torsten Bell of the Resolution Foundation backs the Chancellor's decision to increase National Insurance on self-employed workers.

Raising their national insurance bills is politically difficult and breaks a Conservative 2015 manifesto pledge, says Mr Bell (right). 

But it's also the "right thing to do".

The self-employed now have many of the same rights as those in full-time employment, so it's fairer and better for the public finances to tax them more, he says.

'Defused one bomb, but exploded another'

BBC News Channel

Mark Littlewood
BBC

Increasing the tax bills for the self-employed is politically explosive, says Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs. 

The Chancellor "defused one bomb" by providing relief for business rate rises, Mr Littlewood says. 

"But he has definitely exploded another bomb with this rise in NICs [National Insurance Contributions] for the self-employed," Mr Littlewood adds.

Given that the measure will only raise £145m, he questions if the political risk is worth it.

A safety first Budget - but does it stack up?

Man watching Budget on smartphone
PA

Budgets can change the political context overnight. This wasn't one of them. That doesn't mean however the government will escape unscathed.

Man watching Budget on smartphone

A safety first Budget - but does it stack up?

Budgets can change the political context overnight. This wasn't one of them. That doesn't mean however the government will escape unscathed.

Read more

Help for pubs a 'good first step'

People siting outside a pub
Getty Images

The Chancellor gave £435m of support for pubs and small businesses affected by next month's change in business rates. 

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) represents brands, including Pizza Express and Yo Sushi, as well as independent firms with only a couple of outlets. It welcomes Mr Hammond's move and says it's a "good first step on the road to permanent reform".    

"This much-needed government support will save the sector over £24m and will help safeguard investment and jobs," says AMLR chief executive, Kate Nicholls. 

“The next step is for the government to instigate the long term, root and branch reform that is needed for pubs and bars and the ALMR is keen to work closely with them to achieve this,” she adds.

'A mug's game'

Does the uncertainty around Brexit make the OBR's forecasts more difficult?

Chief executive Robert Chote says that predicting quarter-on-quarter growth is always a "mug's game".

"It's not appreciably more a mug's game as a result of this," he says.

Earlier, some of the difficulties were illustrated in this chart - which one journalist dubbed the "flamethrower of uncertainty".

View more on twitter

In the small print

A few standout details in the OBR's forecasts :

  • It predicts that leaving the EU will slow the pace of import and export growth for the next 10 years
  • There's no allowance for a "divorce settlement" from EU exit-related payments
  • Household incomes will stagnate this year amid rising inflation (see the black line in the chart below)
Real income growth chart
Office for Budget Responsibility

Price of tobacco and alcohol to rise

Bottle of wine and corkscrew
Thinkstock

So just what will changes to so called "sin taxes" mean at the till?

Well, in line with previously planned upratings in duty on tobacco and alcohol, a packet of 20 cigarettes will cost you 35p more from 6pm tonight.

It'll cost 42p more from tonight for a 30 gram pack of hand rolled tobacco. 

From Monday 13 March a pint of beer will cost 2p more.

A bottle of whisky will go up by 36p, while a bottle of gin will rise by 34p.

Cider will be 1p more and still wine 10p more.

Diageo calls for whisky duty hike to be scrapped

Dieago Whisky collection
PA

It is staggering that the Prime Minister stood up in Scotland only on Friday and said that Scotch Whisky is “a truly great Scottish and British industry… and directly supports tens of thousands of jobs”, and just five days later her Chancellor hammers this industry at home. Tax on Scotch Whisky is now so high – nearly 80% of the price of an average bottle will go straight to the Government. We are calling on the Government to reverse this punitive tax hike and fundamentally overhaul what is clearly a flawed excise duty system.

Charles Ireland Managing director, Diageo Great Britain

Carswell: Scrap 'daft' business rates system

BBC Radio 5 live

Douglas Carswell
Reuters
Douglas Carswell

UKIP MP for Clacton, Douglas Carswell, has called for the current business rates system to be scrapped. 

It comes after chancellor Philip Hammond announced plans in the budget to provide extra relief for pubs and small businesses struggling with their business rates bill.

Carswell told BBC Radio 5 live  that basing the rate on property was "daft", as businesses "may be generating custom without actually having expensive premises". 

"I would personally like to scrap the system and come up with a system where businesses are taxed on the size of the business, on the value... rather than the premises that they happen to be locating", he said. 

When will UK balance the books?

Robert Chote
PA

OBR chief executive Robert Chote is asked by the BBC when the UK will balance its books.  

Not an easy question it seems. The UK will still be in deficit in 2020, Mr Chote says.

Beyond that it's difficult to forecast because the UK will have an election that year, and so potentially a new government.