Autumn Statement:Chancellor George Osborne, British economy is healing / UK News

Chancellor George Osborne is delivering his mini-Budget as he admits that more drastic action is needed to restore Britain’s economy.

The Chancellor is outlining plans, which are set to include another round of Whitehall cuts, a benefits squeeze and a raid on top earners’ pension pots.

A planned 3p hike in fuel duty due in January may also be scrapped and banks could face another tax hit in a bid to raise much-needed revenue.

In his bleak Autumn Statement, Mr Osborne insisted there could be no change of course as he seeks to restore Britain to prosperity.

“We are making progress. It’s a hard road, but we are getting there. Britain is on the right track and turning back now would be a disaster,” he said.

“People know there are no quick fixes… but they want to know that we are making progress. It’s taking time, but the British economy is healing.”

He is widely expected to concede that sluggish growth means tackling the deficit will take longer and that he will miss his key target of having public sector debt falling by 2015-16.

Autumn Statement:Osborne We cannot turn in back

The Chancellor’s hands are largely tied because of weaker than expected economic growth and high borrowing and he will warn that he has had to extend austerity until 2018.

Mr Osborne will insist that he is “confronting the country’s problems, instead of ducking them” as he still seeks to show “we’re all in this together”.

“The public know that there are no miracle cures. Just the hard work of dealing with our deficit and ensuring Britain wins the global race,” he will say.

A crackdown on people and businesses avoiding or evading tax is also likely, with a £77m boost for HM Revenue and Customs to track down those not paying their fair share.

Further plans to signal approval for up to 30 new gas-powered electricity power stations have already sparked controversy.

Mr Osborne is also expected to float possible tax breaks and regulatory reforms to encourage investment in innovative “fracking” technologies for extracting gas from shale deposits.

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