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Interviewers will expect you to be fully informed about policy changes and impacts announced – if you are unable to discuss it in detail, it will be very clear that you do not follow current affairs. The BBC has lots of easy to understand pages with the main points and how they will affect you.

The latest Autumn Statement is a great opportunity to see the mutual influence that politics and economics have on each other. Only weeks ago, George Osborne seemed intent on pushing through £4.4billion worth of cuts to tax credits. After fierce opposition from the other parties and many of his own MPs, Osborne surprised many by announcing he was dropping the proposal in its entirety. Despite believing in it for economic reasons, he recognised the political damage it could cause his future leadership bid.

Here are some of the main points from the Autumn Statement:

  1. The Office for Budget Responsibility says public finances are set to be £27bn better off by 2020 than forecast – this should make Osborne’s aim of achieving a budget surplus by 2019 slightly easier.
  2. Osborne pulled out another surprise by announcing a real term protection of police budgets in England and Wales, with spending to rise by £900m by 2020. This was a smart political move in light of the recent events in Paris and the fact political opponents would have used this against the Government.
  3. Policing, health, education, international aid and defence budgets have all been protected – we knew they would be before the announcement but Osborne managed to find money to increase some of the budgets too.
  1. Osborne announced an extra £600m to be earmarked for mental health services, demonstrating his commitment to earlier pledges.
  2. The departments of transport, energy, business and the environment were amongst the biggest losers, with resource budgets falling by 37%, 22%, 17% and 15% respectively. Osborne explained that there will be around 80,000 public sector job losses but that these will be compensated for by a projected increase of 1million jobs in the private sector.
  3. Osborne did announce that a two-child limit on child tax credit claims to go ahead from April 2017 – this will not be applied to families who currently have more than two children but to those born after April 2017.
  4. Housing benefit and pension credit payments will be stopped for people who leave the country for more than one month – responding to complaints that we are too generous with people who leave the country for extended periods of time.
  1. Osborne took steps to court the women’s vote by announcing that the £15m raised from charging VAT on sanitary products will be given to women’s health charities and charities focusing on domestic violence. The UK charges 5% VAT on these products (the lowest we are able to under EU law) and Osborne explained this was the best interim solution whilst the Government negotiates with the EU.
  2. In a clear signal that Osborne wants to position himself as not being a chancellor for the rich, he announced a new 3% surcharge on stamp duty for buy-to-let properties and second homes from April 2016. This will not make him popular with a lot of core Conservative voters but may swing floating voters over to him.
  3. Osborne confirmed that the state pension to rise by £3.35 a week to £119.30 next year (although we already knew this from previous statements).
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