Around £4bn of spending cuts across several government departments is expected to be announced by the Chancellor in Wednesday’s Budget.
George Osborne is also set to unveil that every state school in England will be taken out of local government control and turned into an academy by 2022. The Chancellor will pledge to provide an additional £1.5bn in education funding to coincide with the move.
Speaking ahead of the Budget the Chancellor said: “The Budget I’ll deliver today will put the next generation first. And at its heart will be a bold plan to make sure that every child gets the best start in life.
“It is simply unacceptable that Britain continues to sit too low down the global league tables for education. So I’m going to get on with finishing the job we started five years ago, to drive up standards and set schools free from the shackles of local bureaucracy.
“I also want to support secondary schools that want to offer their pupils longer school days with more extra-curricular activities like sport and art. So we’ll fund longer school days for at least 25% of all secondary schools.
“Now is the time for us to make the bold decisions and the big investments that will help the next generation, and that is what my Budget today will do.”
The plans have been with opposition from various education bodies.
The Local Government Association’s children and young people board (LGA) chairman Roy Perry said: “Forcing schools to become academies strips parents, teachers and faith groups of any local choice. We have serious concerns that regional schools commissioners still lack the capacity and local knowledge to have oversight of such a large, diverse and remote range of schools.
“The LGA opposes both forced academisation, and giving significant powers relating to education to unelected civil servants with parents and residents unable to hold them to account at the ballot box.”
George Osborne will also unveil several infrastructure proposals in the budget which will total £300m. If delivered in full, the total bill is estimated to rise into the billions.
Housing will also play a major part of the Budget. The Chancellor will announce a fund to release £1.2bn of brownfield land to build an estimated 300,000 “starter homes”. The homes can only be bought by first-time buyers aged under-40, though the property cannot be sold or rented for the full market value for five years.
Income tax is unlikely to see major changes with the exception of the threshold for the 40% income level rate. Currently workers who earn £31,786 fall into this band but this is expected to rise so more people stay in the lower 20% band.
Motorists could be one of the biggest losers in the budget with fuel duty expected to rise by 2p per litre. However this proposal has been met with opposition from Conservative backbenchers in recent weeks. It is unclear if the Chancellor will go ahead with the rise.
George Osborne could face some embarrassment by having to downgrade his forecasted growth figures from 2.4% to 2.2%. The slowing growth rate is largely due to global market concerns around falling demand in China. This has lowered the price of oil which has badly affected Scotland’s North Sea returns.
Both the SNP and Scottish Labour have called on the Chancellor to intervene further than he already has and come to the aid of the industry.