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Chancellor delivers spring statement

Westminster

Published by the Eagle Radio News Team at 1:16pm 13th March 2018. (Updated at 2:38pm 13th March 2018)

The Chancellor of the Exchequer and MP for Runnymede and Weybridge Phillip Hammond has delivered his Spring Statement.

It is the first time that this spring event has not featured a “full-blown budget”.

In a much more low key event there was no red box and no spending or tax changes announced.

He provided an update on the economic and fiscal position of the UK, progress on policies announced at the Autumn Budget and launched a series of consultations.

How is the economy getting on?

Economic growth as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the total value of products produced within the economy over a year, is better than forecast.

In 2017 GDP was 1.7 per cent, compared to a forecast of 1.5 per cent at the budget.

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.

Regards inflation, a sustained rise in the general price level, that is currently at 3 per cent and above the 2 per cent government target.

The Office for Budget Responsibility predictions suggest it with will return to the 2 per cent target within the next 12 months.

Government borrowing forecasts are down for 2017-18, showing a total of £45.2 billion.

That is £4.7 billion less than initially thought and it is expected that the level of UK government debt will begin to fall as a share of GDP from next year.

Progress since Autumn Budget 2017

There was a reminder from the Chancellor that in April the National Living Wage will increase to £7.83.

Elsewhere it was revealed that half of a planned £3 billion has been allocated to government departments and devolved administrations to spend over two years in preparation for Brexit in 2018-19.

Previously announced infrastructure projects were also given an update, with the government now inviting bids for £840 million of funding for transport in cities across England and an allocation of the first wave of funding of a total £190 million Challenge Fund to improve the UK's digital connectivity.

Consultations for new policies

Several open consultations were announced which will help shape future government policy.

The most notable of the new consultations involve tackling the issue of single use plastics, corporate tax for the digital economy and the registration threshold for VAT.

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