Hammond shows off surplus but rebuffs Brexit question

Gum on pavement

Gum on pavement

Growth for 2021 and 2022 was revised down to 1.4 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively while The UK's economy is forecast to grow 20 per cent slower than the Euro Area between 2017 and 2022.

He said the consequences of the economic crash in 2008 meant the economy was £300 billion smaller than had been forecast before the crisis - and the effects are lingering.

"Therefore, whilst many might have expected news or announcements around proposed tax or public spending changes, these were not going to come about".

"The chancellor has proclaimed today that there is light at the end of the tunnel".

Hailing a modest improvement in economic forecasts, and what he called a "turning point" in the public finances, the chancellor sought to shrug off his image as the cabinet's Eeyore, insisting he was "at my most positively Tigger-like".

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It predicts that growth in household consumption will continue to outpace growth in disposable incomes, especially since the cost of debt is at historically low levels and unemployment is relatively low.

As a result the GDP forecast for 2018 has been upgraded from 1.4 per cent to 1.5 per cent, further ahead forecasts remain unchanged at a lower rate of 1.3 per cent in 2019 and 2020.

In his speech on Tuesday (14 March), Hammond said the United Kingdom government would "follow up on the vital issue of plastic littering and the threat to our oceans with a call for evidence to support us in delivering on our vow to tackle this complex issue".

Public Finances: The Chancellor said the borrowing requirement has fallen, but perhaps not by as much as expected.

The government has put £700mln on the national debt despite promising to have eliminated the deficit by 2015, he added.

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And the government is consulting on what role online marketplaces should play in making sure sellers pay the right tax.

"The growing crisis in children's services remains unaddressed and, for many councils, the lack of government support until 2019/20, at the earliest, feels like a lost opportunity".

John Philips, group operations director at Just Mortgages and Spicerhaart said: "The chancellor also announced that inflation is predicted to return to its 2% target over the next 12 months, which suggests that the speculation over further rate rises may be just that".

Paul Dossett, head of local government at accountancy firm Grant Thornton UK, said: "There is some irony that since the last budget, it's Conservative-led county councils who are feeling the most pain with Northamptonshire's well-publicised problems and the challenges facing many others who have already increased their council tax or precept by the maximum amount. However, the opposition in turn reminded us that recent United Kingdom growth has been slower than the rest of the European Union, and that real wages have been falling for a long time, so really, it's a case of "pick "n" mix" with statistics".

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

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In his first spring statement to the House of Commons, the Chancellor revealed that the Office for Budget Responsibility now expects GDP growth in 2018 to be 1.5%, rising from the estimate of 1.4% at November's budget.

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