The Chancellor has revealed his sixth, and final, budget of this Parliament- and declares that Britain is “walking tall”. George Osborne stood today to read the 2015 Budget, one which has been dubbed by Labour opposition “a budget that cannot be believed” in response.In his statement, Osborne claimed that: “One-thousand more jobs have been created every single day. The evidence is plain to see that Britain is working again.” He also said there had been a job created every 10 minutes in the Midlands, and that 80% of new jobs created overall were full-time.On employment in general, he said: “Youth unemployment is down, zero-hour contracts are regulated, the gender gap has never been smaller.”The government also announced that it would abolish annual tax return “altogether”, which would be replaced by digital accounts. It hoped that by the end of the next Parliament, more than 50 million individuals and small businesses could see and manage tax affairs online.A review of business rates was launched on Monday, but the 2015 budget revealed that a pilot scheme was announced to allow areas to retain 100% of any additional business rate growth, beyond expected forecasts. These areas included Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Greater Manchester and Cheshire East. The pilots will begin in April 2015. Osborne inferred that this could also apply to other areas, saying: “My door is open for other areas who want to proceed as well.”Despite this, the Labour Party hit back at the plans, saying that, in fact, there were more “zero-hour contracts than the populations of Glasgow, Leeds and Cardiff combined”. It also criticised the government for only including a number of areas in the new pilot business rates scheme.Industry commentMike Holling, executive director of the Craft Bakers Association (CBA) said: “The CBA welcomes any incentives to help grow the economy and we are very interested to hear about the trial business rates scheme and hope that that is successful and rolled out further. Obviously come the election it all depends upon the outcome of that.”On the National Insurance Contributions announcement, Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: “Young people are at the heart of the retail workforce – over 1 million of the 3 million people who work in retail are under 24 years old. The Chancellor’s abolition of NICs for under 21s lifts a significant burden from the industry and will allow retailers of all sizes to create new job opportunities for many more young people.”Summary: British Baker has fine-combed the document to ensure you stay savvy on plans that could impact on your bakery.Business ratesReview launched to ensure fairer systemA pilot scheme announced to allow certain areas to retain 100% of any additional business rate growth beyond expected forecasts. Pilots will begin in April 2015EmploymentNational minimum to increase by 3.1% for adults to £6.70Apprentice rates to increase by 57p an hour to £3.30Over 1m employers have benefited from the NICs Employment Allowance. Around 500,000 employers will have been taken out of Employer NICs altogether in 2014-15The abolition of Employer NICs for under 21-year-olds from April 2015 will benefit employers of almost 1.5m young peopleTaxThe main rate of corporation tax cut from 28% to 21%, and to 20% in April 2015Personal allowance to increase to £10,600 from April 2015, this is worth £825 to a typical taxpayerTax on “diverted profits” to come into effect next month, which taxes multinational profits “artificially moved offshore”. The government plans to raise £3.1bn by cracking down on tax avoidance and questionable exploitation of tax loopholes.Further support to farmers by increasing the period over which they can average their profits for income tax from two to five years from April 2016Abolishment of annual tax as the tax system will go onlineGrowthThe UK grew 2.6% in 2014, faster than any other advanced economy, but lower than 3% predicted in December2.5% growth forecast in 2015, up from 2.4% predicted in December, followed by 2.3%, 2.3%, 2.3% and 2.4% in the next four yearsJobless rate to fall to 5.3% this yearInflation projected to fall to 0.2% in 2015.
NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” is heading for new chapters. Penguin Random House announced Wednesday that the former first lady’s multimillion-selling memoir will be released in a young readers edition. It also will finally be coming out as a paperback, more than two years after it was first published. “Becoming” has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. Both books are scheduled for March 2. The young readers edition is for ages 10 and up and includes a new introduction from Obama. The paperback edition also features a new introduction by the author, along with a book club guide.