Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Philip Hammond hints at an NHS cash boost in the Autumn Budget

Philip Hammond hints at an NHS cash boost in the Autumn Budget

Government borrowing will be £45.2 billion this year - some £4.7 billion lower than predicted in November and £108 billion lower than in 2010.

Philip Hammond today delivered the first of the new-style spring statement to the House of Commons, which did not include major spending announcements.

The Shadow Chancellor accused Hammond of shifting the blame "onto the public services his colleagues are responsible for", and called for urgent action.

In spite of the weakening growth outlook, Hammond described himself as "positively Tigger-like" in his optimism, and said he "would have capacity for further spending" if the economy continues to grow.

He also said the Department for Education would release up to £80 million to help small businesses with the apprenticeship levy.

The Chancellor will use his first Spring Statement on Tuesday to call for evidence on how to reduce damaging waste, and the new plastic innovation fund, which is also expected to be announced on Tuesday, say Sky News, is expected to be one of the few spending policies in his statement.

Furthermore, the government has said that it is working with 44 areas which have submitted bids to the Housing Infrastructure fund, to make sure that only those homes that are needed are being built. However, its forecast for coming years remained unchanged, with GDP growth expected to sit at around 1.3% until 2020.

The UK government will negotiate a Brexit that delivers prosperity and jobs, Hammond said.

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The Chancellor talked up "substantial progress" on the Brexit talks so far and said he looks forward to "another important step forward next week at the European Council", when negotiating teams meet.

The OBR improved its forecast for economic growth for 2018, predicting GDP would increase by 1.5% for the year, up from its prediction of 1.4% in November 2017.

The OBR expects inflation to fall from its peak of 3% to the Bank of England's 2% over the next 12 months.

The Office for Budget Responsibility's forecasts for the deficit, debt, GDP and productivity will form the backbone of the statement.

The OBR has already upgraded its fiscal forecasts twice over the past year, in March 2017 and November, as tax receipts have come in stronger than previously expected.

Mr Hammond said his deputy Elizabeth Truss would publish the departmental allocation of more than £1.5 billion of Brexit preparation funding for 2018-19.

At the weekend Hammond said: "Single-use plastics waste is a scourge to our environment".

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