• Britain’s budget gearing for Brexit – chancellor

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    LONDON: Finance minister Philip Hammond said Sunday he would keep chopping away at the deficit to get Britain fit to face Brexit, as he prepares to deliver his budget on Wednesday.

    Hammond insisted it would be “reckless” to go on a spending splurge, as Britain needed to build up its economic resilience as it gets ready to leave the European Union.

    Prime Minister Theresa May is due to start two years of divorce negotiations with Brussels by the end of the month.

    “As we prepare to start our negotiations to leave the European Union and plan how we will make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead, my budget on Wednesday will set out the next steps to creating a stronger, fairer and better Britain,” Hammond wrote in The Sunday Times newspaper.

    “As we begin our negotiations with the EU we are embarking on a new chapter in our history.

    “We need to maintain our commitment to fiscal discipline and to strengthen our economic position as we forge our vision of Britain’s future in the world.”

    The chancellor of the exchequer said that when the centre-right Conservatives entered government in 2010, Brit-ain was borrowing one pound in every five spent but the deficit was now down by nearly two-thirds.

    “We must, as a country, ensure we get back to living within our means,” he said, insisting that he would stick to his planned trajectory of reducing borrowing.

    “There are still some voices calling for massive borrowing to fund huge spending sprees. That approach is not only confused, it’s reckless, unsustainable and unfair on our young people, who would be left to deal with the conse-quences,” he said.

    Youth skills training revamp
    In his budget, Hammond will unveil a revamp of skills training for 16 to 19-year-olds, the Treasury announced.

    The current 13,000-odd technical education qualifications will be replaced by a more streamlined model of 15 de-signed better to suit the needs of students and businesses.

    The government will work with employers and colleges to design the routes.

    The move is aimed at putting technical qualifications on a level footing with the academic qualifications open to 16 to 18-year-olds.

    The plans involve increasing the amount of training by more than 50 percent to more than 900 hours a year.

    The new qualifications will be rolled out from 2019-20 and £500 million ($615 million, 580 million euros) will be ploughed into them annually.

    The Sunday Times said measures expected to be in the budget include a three percent payroll tax rise for self-employed workers to 12 percent; minimum pricing for cigarettes; a continuing freeze in fuel duty, and broadband Internet vouchers for small businesses.

    AFP

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