Chancellor Philip Hammond delivers Spring Statement

Jeannie Matthews
March 13, 2018

Estimates from the Office for Budget Responsibility say the United Kingdom economy has grown 1.7 per cent in 2017, compared to the previous forecast of 1.5 per cent announced in the Autumn Budget in November.

Mr Hammond rejected Labour "doom and gloom" over the state of the economy, saying the recession repeatedly forecast by shadow chancellor John McDonnell since 2010 had failed to materialise.

In a consultation paper, published to go with the Spring Statement, the chancellor said he hoped to target the measures in such a way that it did not harm start-ups and growing companies.

The predictions, made by Office for Budget Responsibility, would put the United Kingdom among the slowest among major economies as global growth picks ups, and are also drastically more pessimistic than those from before the Brexit referendum.

While Hammond was arguably making more of the upgrade than it's worth, we could hardly have expected him to do anything different.

The Chancellor ruled out extra spending in tomorrow's Spring Statement, but said there was "light at the end of the tunnel".

Economic growth in 2017 was recorded at 1.7%, higher than the 1.5% predicted by the OBR in November's Budget, where it expected growth to fall to 1.4% in 2018 and 1.3% in 2019 and 2020.

Instead, he said the economy had grown in every year of the Conservative-led governments, with manufacturing enjoying its longest unbroken run of growth for 50 years, three million additional jobs and higher levels of employment in every part of the UK. Hammond's spokeswoman said it would help the government to make better judgments about whether Britain needed "fewer bridges, more programmers".

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"This underlines just how vital it is to secure a Brexit that delivers for jobs, and an industrial strategy that helps transform United Kingdom productivity in all corners of the country", she said.

The OBR expects inflation to fall from its peak of 3% to the Bank of England's 2% over the next 12 months.

In November, the GDP growth forecast for the next five years, up to and including 2022, was 1.4%, 1.3%, 1.3%, 1.5% and 1.6% respectively. The body left its forecasts unchanged for 2019 at 1.3%. Wages of the lowest paid are up by nearly 7%, he added.

He addressed the regular meeting of Cabinet ahead of his spring statement to the House of Commons.

The budget statement is also tipped to include improved economic growth and borrowing forecasts.

His deputy Liz Truss said there would be no red box, no rabbits out of the hat and no tax changes.

Within the November Budget, the Chancellor announced plans to use the tax system to support the Government's goal of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

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