Jeremy Hunt announces big changes to childcare and pensions

Watch Live: PMQs and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivers budget

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Jeremy Hunt has unveiled a major three-step “back to work” plan as part of his spring budget, delivered to the House of Commons this afternoon. The plan involves huge changes to pensions, along with a major package of childcare reforms. The Chancellor also delivered a major shock to the Commons when he confirmed that lifetime tax-free allowance for pensions is being abolished entirely.

Mr Hunt was expected to raise the current cap from £1.07million to £1.8million.

However, he revealed he wouldn’t do that, despite demands, and was instead abolishing the cap altogether.

It marked one of the biggest rabbits out of his hat during today’s budget.

Mr Hunt also announced the Government is to raise the annual allowance people can save each year before being taxed, from £40,000 to £60,000.

The centre-right Centre for Policy Studies think-tank said the Government’s previous decision to lower the pensions cap from £1.8 million in 2011 to £1.07 million by 2016 has “hastened the retirement of some older workers.”

Some Tory MPs had called the current tax-free allowance limit a “doctor’s tax”, because it was encouraging health professionals in their constituencies to quit early as they could no longer save tax-free.

Mr Hunt also announced “returnerships” or later-life apprenticeships, as revealed he would by the Daily Express.

The new skills courses will focus on boosting the over-50s chance of finding higher-paid jobs.

The budget’s back-to-work measures also included reforms to getting people into work.

Mr Hunt said the number of disabled people in work has risen by two million since 2013.

However with Zoom, Microsoft Teams and new working models that make it easier to work from home this is easier now than ever.

The Government is publishing a white paper on disability reform.

Disabled benefit claimants will now always be able to seek work without the fear of losing benefit support.

They will fund a new programme called “universal support”, a voluntary scheme where the government will spend £4,000 per person to help disabled people get into work.

Children in care will also receive extra help for when they reach adulthood.

The care relief threshold will be nearly doubled.

The Chancellor announced new incentives to get unemployed Universal Credit claimants with no reason not to work will experience more rigorous sanctions if they refuse to take a viable job.

Mr Hunt also unveiled a new package of childcare reforms, worth up to £4 billion for parents across the UK.

The reforms include 30 hours of free childcare for kids under five. It will also see the Government hand out subsidies for childcare providers, as part of an incentive to encourage them to deliver free hours.

In his statement to the House of Commons, the Chancellor announced that regulation on staff-to-child ratios will be loosened, so one worker can look after five, rather than four children.

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