Heads up on the UK Spring Statement due later in the day

Heads up on the UK Spring Statement due later in the day

Heads up on the UK Spring Statement due later in the day

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.

A brief, low-key speech is expected from Hammond when he addresses the House of Commons about the state of the UK's public finances.

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

The stronger economic figures are likely to start a Tory battle over budgets that will rage until next year's spending review, which determines the...

Hammond's statement was received with cheers on the Conservative benches, with MPs increasingly concerned about the pressures on their local public services, including the NHS.

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Mr Hammond announced on Tuesday that the Government had marginally revised up its growth forecast and slightly decreased its public sector net borrowing prediction.

The chancellor has hinted that he will increase spending on public services when he delivers his budget in the autumn.

Growth forecasts in 2019 and 2020 were kept unchanged at 1.3 percent and were cut for the following two years, according to the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, which judged a recent pick-up in productivity to be temporary.

Hetal Mehta, senior European economist at Legal & General Investment Management, said: "After significant downgrades to growth and upward revisions to borrowing requirements just in November, the OBR has now revised up growth (for the near term) and taken down the borrowing forecasts over the next five years".

With an expected drop in borrowing, higher-than-predicted GDP growth of 1.7% for 2017 and the recent elimination of the Government's deficit on day-to-day spending, Mr Hammond is expected to tell MPs that the United Kingdom is reaping the reward for years of austerity.

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Business leaders largely welcomed the move, but also said that it was important that the Chancellor doesn't let politics get in the way of these plans, especially as the United Kingdom heads towards Brexit.

There was, he said "light at the end of the tunnel". "Another step on the road to rebuilding the public finances decimated by the party opposite", Hammond said.

Yet in reply, Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: "Does the chancellor really believe the NHS can wait another eight months for the lifesaving funds it needs?"

"[He] proclaimed that there is light at the end of the tunnel. That shows how cut off he is", said McDonnell.

One year ago today, Hammond confounded expectations by switching the Budget - the main financial event of the year - to autumn.

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In spite of the upgrade, the economy is set to be one of the slowest-growing in the Group of Seven industrialized nations in 2018, as it was a year ago. It said about 75% of the £37bn "divorce bill", as it has been dubbed, would be paid before 2022 - but small payments would continue until 2064.

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