A mixed reaction to chancellor's spring statement

A mixed reaction to chancellor's spring statement

"Someone who'd missed the Chancellor's protestations over the last few weeks would be forgiven for not realising that we'd moved from a Spring Budget to a Spring Statement".

Growth in 2017 was 1.7%, the OBR has confirmed, up from the 1.5% forecast at the Budget.

Hammond stressed he had to keep on bringing down Britain's public debt levels but tried to focus on the positives, highlighting the OBR's prediction of a return to growth in spending power for households in early 2019.

Britain's sluggish economy will grow slightly more quickly than previously thought this year in the run-up to Brexit, lowering the government's expected borrowing, finance minister Philip Hammond said on Tuesday.

Average GDP growth is expected to be 1.4% a year over the next five years, unchanged since November, the OBR said.

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.

Similarly, while Hammond was able to announce that the OBR had cut its estimate of government borrowing in the current 2017/18 financial year by nearly £5bn to just over £45bn, this was the result of a cyclical rather than a structural improvement in the state of the public finances.

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Philip Hammond announced today that the government will bring forward the next revaluation of business rates from 2022 to 2021. "Business rates are among the biggest costs for high street businesses and smaller firms".

Graham Lamont, chief executive of Lamont Pridmore, said he felt the statement reflected the Conservative Party's changing attitude to austerity.

"A far stronger push is needed to fund and fix the fundamentals here at home in the coming months, and Norfolk business wants the chancellor to use his Autumn Budget to gear up and spend to improve digital connectivity, deliver further road and rail improvements, strengthen the UK's energy security and build more houses". But the downward revision to borrowing since November will diminish over the next two years because of upward revisions to debt interest and some other spending.

"We should make it our business to do so again".

Richard Miller, head of property at Burnetts, said: "It is reassuring to see that in times of uncertainty, the underlying economy is growing".

The organisation added that it welcomed a separate initiative by the Chancellor to provide £80 million for small and medium businesses to recruit apprentices, while also remarking that today's announcement would help music companies in recruiting and upskilling their workforce.

"We just need to ensure that Cumbrian businesses large and small are actively encouraged to participate in this scheme".