Spring statement: Philip Hammond hails a bounce in Britain's finances

SPRING STATEMENTMarch 12 2018 12:00pm The Times Spring statement Chancellor will get stuck into chewing gumnew Oliver Wright Policy Editor

SPRING STATEMENTMarch 12 2018 12:00pm The Times Spring statement Chancellor will get stuck into chewing gumnew Oliver Wright Policy Editor

Philip Hammond's announcement yesterday in the House of Commons left some saying he needed to do more on rates, while an MP hailed a booming economy.

But while the Chancellor Philip Hammond said he was at his "most positively Tigger-like" such was his excitement at improvements in the economy, the accompanying figures from the OBR suggested British families will continue to face challenges. Mr Hammond was pleased to predict an expected return of the real wage growth from later this year, meaning earnings could rise faster than inflation, which if true, would be good news for all. However, as the OBR was downgrading its forecasts, the picture for productivity improved, with growth of 0.8% recorded by the ONS in the fourth quarter of 2017, following 0.9% growth in the third quarter.

In his first spring statement to the House of Commons - not created to be a "major fiscal event" like the Autumn Budget - Mr Hammond revealed that the Office for Budget Responsibility now expects state borrowing to be £45.2 billion this year - £4.7 billion lower than predicted in November and £108 billion lower than in 2010.

"Our research shows that in the East of England we are predicted to grow at an annual GVA growth rate of 1.7% to 2020".

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"Put these two together and on current forecasts just keeping spending constant as a fraction of national income beyond 2019-20 and reaching budget balance by the mid-2020s would require tax rises of £30bn a year", Mr Johnson said.

Helen Munday, the chief scientific officer of United Kingdom industry body Food and Drink Federation, said: "FDF fully recognises that more needs to be done to reduce litter and drive up recycling across all materials, including plastics, and this needs to encompass increasing the capture of used packaging both on-the-go and in the home".

The increases in income tax thresholds and other reforms meant that only 56% of adults paid income tax, against 66% in 2007-08.

From April 6, the first £11,850 of your earnings will be tax free, unless you earn above £100,000.

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The chancellor of the exchequer stated that employment has increased by 3m since 2010 - the equivalent of 1,000 people finding work every day.

Auto-enrolment is currently being rolled out into workplace pensions, ensuring that most workers are now paying into a workplace pension. The OBR also made a slight upgrade to its forecast for GDP growth in 2017-18 to 1.5% from 1.4% in November. The UK's poor economic growth rates come at a time when the global economic recovery is very strong.

The Chancellor pointed to the OBR's prediction that public sector net debt would start to fall in 2018-19, dropping each year from 85.6% to 77.9% in 2022-23, as a "turning point".

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