Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Finance | By Claude Patterson

UK Outlook Gets Small Boost But Remains Stuck in Low Gear

UK Outlook Gets Small Boost But Remains Stuck in Low Gear

While unveiling the Spring Statement, Hammond stuck to an optimistic tone when he said "there is light at the end of the tunnel" and that the United Kingdom economy is in better shape than expected.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is set to launch a public consultation on how the tax system can be used to reduce single-use plastics, according to Sky News.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell responded to the statement by saying Hammond's "complacency is astounding".

The debt forecast is almost 1% lower than in November, Mr Hammond said.

He also said the Department for Education would release up to £80 million to help small businesses with the apprenticeship levy.

Mr Hammond said his deputy Elizabeth Truss would publish the departmental allocation of more than £1.5 billion of Brexit preparation funding for 2018-19.

He said: "I remind the House that the party opposite voted against it". He insisted he had committed £60bn to public spending, with £4bn going into the NHS in 2018/19 alone, praising staff for their work during the recent winter crisis.

The chancellor will reveal figures from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility on the state of the nation's finances and economic performance.

Forecast growth for 2019 and 2020 is unchanged at 1.3 per cent, but growth in 2021 and 2022 is revised down by 0.1 per cent to 1.4 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively.

Economists expect Mr Hammond will announce Government borrowing is set to be about £7bn lower in 2017-18 than had been predicted when he unveils the latest forecasts of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which will for the first time include spending estimates for the £35-39bn Brexit "divorce bill" agreed with the European Union in December. However, it left its prediction for United Kingdom growth in 2019 unchanged at 1.1 per cent.

Borrowing is now forecast to be £45.2 billion this year, £4.7 billion lower than forecast in November. Those looking for any major spending or policy announcements will be left disappointed.

Mr Hammond has said he will not announce any new tax or spending policies when he addresses Parliament at 1230 GMT in a speech expected to last only around 20 minutes.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced that London will receive £1.67 billion to start building a further 27,000 affordable homes by the end of 2021-22.

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