Morning papers: Osborne holds out prospect of surplus

George Osborne will proclaim on Thursday that a budget surplus is in sight for the first time since the millennium, raising Tory hopes of significant tax cuts in the next parliament after nearly a decade of austerity, reports the Financial Times.

The chancellor will deliver his Autumn Statement against a backdrop of sharply rising growth forecasts, which could pave the way for Britain to be back in the black by 2018-19 – almost two years earlier than seemed likely in March.

State pension age to be raised to 70 for today’s young workers

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Young people currently entering the workforce will have to wait until they are 70 before they can retire under plans to save £500bn over the next 50 years, George Osborne will signal on Thursday, reports The Guardian.

The chancellor will also use his autumn statement to demand £1bn in additional spending cuts in the hope that voters will focus on Britain’s “responsible recovery” – the healthy economic growth prospects for next year, slowly restoring public finances and measures to cut youth unemployment.

Households have reined in Christmas spending during slump, figures show

Christmas may be the season for a festive spending spree, but Britain’s cash-conscious households have restrained their annual festive blowout in the face of recession and austerity, according to a new analysis by the Office for National Statistics, reports The Guardian.

As retailers pin their hopes on a last-minute surge in spending over the next couple of weeks, the ONS revealed that in real terms, Christmas spending in the average household was no higher last year than in 2006.

Osborne plans tax break for peer-to-peer lenders

Investors in small businesses through peer-to-peer lending websites are to be offered tax breaks by the chancellor to help to improve access to credit for cash-starved companies, reports The Times.

George Osborne is expected to announce in today’s Autumn Statement that peer-to-peer lending will qualify for inclusion in Individual Savings Accounts. The move would exempt interest payments from income tax and potentially lift investor returns by roughly 50 per cent.

George Osborne poised to cap business rates

Business leaders have warned George Osborne that a cap on business rates will only be worthwhile if the property tax is eventually reformed, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The chancellor could announce in the Autumn Statement that the annual inflation-linked increase in business rates will be capped at 2 per cent for 2014 rather than 3.2 per cent, saving companies £300m.