THE Chancellor of the Exchequer has outlined his spending plans for the years ahead.
Families and firms will benefit at the pumps, as a planned three pence price rise in fuel duty planned for January has been scrapped.
Other highlights in George Osborne’s 50-minute speech include an extension of the business rates relief for small and medium-sized firms until April 2014.
But the chancellor said Britain was facing an extended era of austerity, as the country has missed its growth targets.
Mr Osborne told MPs: ‘It’s taking time, but the British economy is healing.’
He acknowledged that previous growth predictions were wrong, but he pledged to continue efforts to drive down the deficit.
He said: ‘Yes, the deficit is still far too high for comfort. We cannot relax our efforts to make our economy safe.
‘But Britain is heading in the right direction. The road is hard but we’re making progress.’
He also announced another cut in corporation tax rate by a further one per cent to 21 per cent, compared with 40 per cent in the US, 33 per cent in France and 29 per cent in Germany.
He said: ‘This is the lowest rate of any major western economy. It is an advert for our country that says: come here, invest here, create jobs here – Britain is open for business.’
He confirmed that the planned increase in fuel duty would be suspended, saying: ‘It means that under this government we’ll have had no increase in petrol taxes for nearly two and a half years.’
And he announced more help for working people with an increase in the amount they can earn before paying any income tax from next April - currently due to be £9,205 - by a further £235.
Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls, however, slammed Mr Osborne’s Autumn Statement, saying it revealed the ‘true scale of this Government’s economic failure’ and that the UK was ‘falling behind in the global race” as a result of Mr Osborne’s management of the economy.’