Wednesday, 23 May, 2018

Hammond hails 'light at the end of the tunnel' for economy

Philip Hammond GETTYPhilip Hammond is considering a green tax on chewing gum
Preston Stone | 13 March, 2018, 18:38

The chancellor said the economy was on track to grow a little faster than expected this year, despite the prospects for weaker growth in the medium term.

The shadow chancellor labelled Mr Hammond's "complacency" as "astounding" during the Spring Statement, before sounding warnings over the state of the United Kingdom economy.

Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry, largely echoed Mr Marshall's remarks, saying that it was "great to see an upgrade in the state of our public finances and rightly sensible to set more aside for a rainy day with Brexit uncertainty still weighing on the economy".

The budget deficit for the current 2017/18 fiscal year has been cut to an estimated £45.2 billion from a forecast of £49.9 billion made in November, Mr Hammond said.

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.

"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 improved outlook for growth means the government will borrow less by the early years of the next decade than previously forecast, Hammond said.

Citing the success of the five pence plastic bag levy, the Treasury will be gathering evidence from environmental organisations, businesses and individuals on how the tax system can be used to reduce the UK's reliance on plastics.

A star for Skywalker
Patrick's Festival CEO said: "The role of International Guest of Honour is something we have been considering for a few years". In addition to Mark's Star Wars connection, research into his family history has found that he has a double-link to Ireland.

Inflation hit 3.1% in November 2017, but the OBR predicted it had reached its peak.

Economic growth exceeded Office for Budget Responsibility expectations in 2017 with an increase of 1.7%, though it is still expected to fall to 1.5% in 2018 and 1.3% in 2019 and 2020, before rising to 1.4% in 2021 and 1.5% in 2022.

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

It comes as the Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated that Britain's financial settlement with the European Union will cost £37.1 billion.

The economy has seen higher employment and lower unemployment, adding 3 million jobs, he said.

Philip Hammond is expected to keep his Spring Statement short and sweet at 20 minutes.

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.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond has called for a deeper look at how tech giants such as Google and Facebook are taxed.

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