Spring Statement: Inflation to return to target

Gum on pavement

GETTYChewing gum on the pavement

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.

He said public service workers, including doctors and nurses, need Hammond to take action.

He is set to unveil consultations on a single-use plastics tax and a possible tax on the profits of digital giants like Facebook and Google.

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

Mr Hammond said he was inviting cities across England to bid for a share of £840 million to deliver on "local transport priorities".

He said: "I remind the House that the party opposite voted against it".

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 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.

Philip Hammond has kicked off its Spring Statement by saying the United Kingdom was the only major economy to make major tax changes twice a year.

Meanwhile, think-tank OECD has raised its growth forecast for the United Kingdom economy to 1.3 per cent in 2018 from a previous estimate of 1.2 per cent.

"As a percentage of GDP, borrowing is forecast to be 2.2 percent in 17-18, falling to 1.8 percent in 18-19, 1.6 percent in 19-20, then 1.3 percent, 1.1 percent and finally 0.9 percent in '22-'23, meaning that in 18-19 we will run a small current surplus, borrowing only for capital investment". The body left its forecasts unchanged for 2019 at 1.3%.

Britain's finance minister is expected to announce on Tuesday a modest improvement in the country's slow economic growth outlook in the run-up to Brexit, raising the prospect that he might relax his grip on public spending later this year.

There will be no policy announcements or tax and spending measures - they will be held back to the autumn Budget - and no photocall outside 11 Downing Street with the chancellor's red box.

Mr Hammond, delivering a half-yearly update on the public finances, said Britain's budget forecasters expect the economy to grow by 1.5 per cent in 2018, up a touch from a forecast of 1.4 per cent in November.

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