Spring Budget: OBR upgrades 2018 growth forecasts

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond

Chancellor Philip Hammond has revealed what shape the United Kingdom economy is in a year out from Brexit. Announced in the 2017 Autumn budget, new diesel cars have to meet the Real Driving Emissions limits for nitrogen oxide to stay within their current tax bands.

Mr Hammond said he thought the economy may be on the "beginning of a turn in the trajectory of productivity performance".

The debt forecast is almost 1% lower than in November, Mr Hammond said.

The OBR predict that debt as a share of GDP will peak at 85.6 per cent in 2017-18 then fall to 85.5 per cent in 2018-19, then 85.1 per cent, 82.1 per cent the year after, 78.3 per cent in 2022, and finally 77.9 per cent in 2022-23.

It is expected to be "the first sustained fall in debt for 17 years, a turning point in the nation's recovery from the financial crisis of a decade ago". "Light at the end of the tunnel".

The Chancellor used his first Spring Statement today (13 March) to announce the call for evidence, which will examine the potential for charge on items such as plastic plates, takeaway boxes and polystyrene packaging, building on the success of the existing plastic carrier bag charge.

However, he held out the prospect of improved funding for the public sector in a commitment to "set an overall path for public spending for 2020 and beyond" with a detailed spending review in 2019. Check out the very latest from the statement below. "Our economy is created to fail people - and it needs an overhaul".

Mr Hammond said this makes the economy vulnerable to future shocks and places "a significant burden on future generations".

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He defended the Government's spending plans, adding: "He reels out the same old bogus statistics on regional distribution, I think he's got the briefing from Russia Today".

He said: "Our economy will remain and open and outward-looking, confident to compete with the best in the world".

On business rates, he said a revaluation has been brought forward to 2021, after which the government will move to revaluations every three years. The statement is also expected to cover the UK's productivity which will be interesting given that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently stated that the United Kingdom must boost its productivity.

Mr Hammond said some businesses were avoiding paying VAT on sales, but he added that others were simply unfamiliar with paying taxes as this had been done on their behalf.

A deal had been agreed with the West Midlands to deliver 215,000 homes by 2030-31, facilitated by a £100 million grant from the land remediation fund. His Treasury deputy Liz Truss said there would be "no red box, no rabbits out of the hat and no tax changes".

Hammond said the education secretary will release up to £80m to help small firms take on apprentices. He says its "reaffirming to see the Chancellor yet again covered the hot topic of housing, but we still haven't seen the delivery of promises from previous budgets, so only time will tell if these words will actually equate to action".

He said the country could not risk allowing Labour to derail progress and cautioned: "We are not out of the tunnel yet".

Mr Hammond concluded his speech at 12.58pm.

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