The Economy and Work

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 1:23 pm on 26th May 2016.

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Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Secretary of State 1:23 pm, 26th May 2016

I saw the unwelcome news about the Shell job losses. Working with the Scottish Government, we will do everything we can to help the people who have lost their jobs and make sure that this industry, vital to our country, is protected at a time of low global oil prices. That is why we have worked with Aberdeen on the new city deal and to improve the harbour; and that is why, in the Budget, we chose, as the big tax measures in this area, the abolition of petroleum revenue taxation and a halving of the supplementary charge. We are ready and stand willing to help this industry at this difficult time, because it is world class and we want to make sure we get as much oil out of the North sea basin as we can.

We are also addressing, in the Queen’s Speech, other challenges in the British economy, such as the low savings rate, which we have had for many decades. We have reformed pensions and given pensioners access to their pension pots—250,000 pensioners have already made use of that innovation. I can also tell the House that today at our request—we asked it to impose a charge cap on exiting those pensions—the Financial Conduct Authority has announced that there will be just a 1% cap, which is lower than the range it was consulting on.

The Queen’s Speech also contains a proposal for the lifetime ISA that I announced in the Budget, so that young people no longer have to choose between saving for their home and saving for their retirement. In the words of Martin Lewis, the personal finance guru, it is the biggest change in personal savings this country has ever seen.