Philip Hammond hails "light at the end of the tunnel" for economy

Philip Hammond hails

"The Chancellor has proclaimed today that there is light at the end of the tunnel".

Back then, the big news was that the OBR had slashed its estimate of the UK's long-term growth potential as a result of the flat-lining of productivity since the financial crisis a decade ago. The chancellor says the real wage will start to rise by the first quarter of next year.

Despite revealing the smallest budget deficit since 2002, Mr Hammond had already said the national debt was too high and that it would be wrong to put "every penny" into more public spending.

Traditionally, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has delivered two statements to Parliament each year containing budget measures and economic forecasts: one in Spring and one in Autumn.

Mr Hammond said he would also be launching further consultations ahead of Budget 2018.

He accused Labour of "relentlessly talking Britain down" with "doom and gloom about the state of the nation".

Hammond said he was on course to meet a target of bringing the debt-to-GDP ratio down each year, saying the OBR saw it falling to just under 78 percent of GDP by the 2022/23 fiscal year from an expected peak of 85.6 percent now.

The expected budget deficit for the current 2017/18 fiscal year was lowered to an estimated 45.2 billion pounds from a forecast of 49.9 billion made in November, although that was less of a cut than many economists had expected.

Now the country is about to experience a similar period of low growth once again, according to today's forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

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.

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"Forecasts are there to be beaten", Hammond told MPs.

"For what was meant to be a simple economic statement, the Chancellor turned much of the first Spring Statement into a political opportunity to have a dig at Labour with barbs about red books and oncoming trains".

The Chancellor is signalling improved economic figures will see him announce extra cash for public services later this year. "Our economy is created to fail people - and it needs an overhaul".

"We are building a Britain fit for the future and an economy that works for everyone", he added.

The Chancellor added that since 2016 he had set out a plan to "unleash our creators and our innovators, our inventors and our discoverers". The consultation will remain open until 5 June 2018.

He also issued a call for evidence on how to help the UK's least productive businesses.

The government will also invest £1.7 billion to create another 26,000 affordable homes in London, and in addition housing minister Dominic Raab is said to be working with 44 local councils that have bid for a £4.1 billion housing infrastructure fund.

'The stamp duty concessions have definitely prompted more interest among first-time buyers, who are often taking the place of investors at the lower end of the market.

On housing, he said there is an investment programme of £44bn.

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