Philip Hammond hints at Budget boost for North Sea oil
Philip Hammond has hinted he could use Wednesday's Budget to try to revive the flagging North Sea oil industry.
The Chancellor said action to help the industry was the "number one ask" from his Scottish colleagues, who have seen jobs in the industry plummet in recent years.
Once a lucrative source of funds for the Exchequer, the fall in the world oil price has seen income from the North Sea slump from over £12bn in 2009 to just £900m in predicted revenue this year.
Since 2014 the number of people working in the industry has fallen from 464,000 to just over 300,000.
Mr Hammond told the Sunday Times he was "looking at" a measure to allow producers who are selling oil fields to roll over tax credits to the site's new owners.
The move would allow buyers to reclaim the costs of decommissioning the fields, making it easier to buy and sell mature fields and keep them producing oil for longer.
At the same time, Mr Hammond was clear he would make sure the reforms are "robust and that we don’t inadvertently create scope for gaming on a grand scale in the tax system".
Mr Hammond is also planning sweeping measures to boost housebuilding, investment in high-tech industries and a possible pay increase for nurses in next week's big fiscal event.
He is under pressure from Cabinet colleagues and Tory backbenchers to deliver measures that offer relief to public sector workers and make the Conservatives more attractive to young voters.