Philip Hammond's Spring Statement not likely to include new cash for North

Lloyd Doyle
March 13, 2018

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.

It was a line he repeated from the despatch box as he gave MPs his biannual update on the nation's finances, confirming that the OBR had revised its forecast upwards slightly.

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.

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.

Mr Hammond said there had been "solid progress towards building an economy that works for everyone" with growth every year since 2010.

"And we are forecast to meet our cyclically adjusted borrowing target in '20-21 with 15.4 billion pounds headroom broadly as forecast at the Budget".

He has said he wants to make the November budget statement Britain's main fiscal event, giving up the chance seized by some previous British finance ministers of dominating the headlines with new policy announcements twice a year.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel, because what we're about to see is debt starting to fall, after it's been growing for 17 continuous years".

Growth also looks set to be slightly higher than forecast a year ago - but public debt as a percentage of national income remains well above 80%. "That's a very important moment for us", he told The BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

He also took aim at Labour's efforts to "undermine the market economy", which Hammond says is responsible for having lifted the country's quality of life.

The statement used to act as a "mini-budget", but Hammond has broken with tradition and pledged to deliver only one budget a year, in the Autumn.

"He needs to listen to the calls from across the political spectrum, including the Tory council leader in his own constituency - to end the financial crisis in our public sector".

Mr Hammond is also facing calls from his own side to call a halt to the public spending squeeze.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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