Spring Budget: OBR upgrades 2018 growth forecasts

You could be taxed if you spit chewing gum out in the street

You could be taxed if you spit chewing gum out in the street

Mr Hammond has said he might be able to allow a bit more public spending later this year.

And after the Chancellor compared Labour to gloomy cartoon character Eeyore and himself to the more optimistic Tigger, shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne joked that Mr Hammond was "talking Pooh".

But in 2016, Mr Hammond announced plans to hold the Budget in Autumn and a Statement in Spring - and today's announcement marks the first Spring Statement under this new process. But like ostriches, some can bury their heads in the sand and ignore the opportunities in front of them.

However, growth for 2019 and 2020 will remain unchanged from previous estimates of 1.3 per cent and will rise to 1.5 per cent in 2021 and 2022.

Hammond added the Treasury will today publish information about how the £1.5bn set aside for Brexit planning will be spent.

The OBR has released a statement explaining its revised forecasts for United Kingdom economic growth.

He said the predicted falling debt load as a percentage of GDP in the 2018-19 fiscal year marked a "turning point in this nation's recovery". He claimed there was "light at the end of the tunnel" but refused to rule out further cuts.

"[He] proclaimed that there is light at the end of the tunnel". If these were to be improved, on the one hand it would keep property prices in check and on the other it would generate real benefits for not just the housing market but for the economy as a whole.

Hammond hit back, saying McDonnell affects the air of a "bank manager"; but every now and again "the mask slips", revealing his "dangerous ideology".

Greenpeace UK senior political adviser Rebecca Newsom said in response to today's announcement: "The success of the plastic bag charge shows that a smart tax on plastic can work, so it's good to see the Chancellor reconfirm his commitment to look into this".

The government's slender majority meant Hammond had limited room for manoeuvre and scant political cover for any missteps, meaning he was always likely to make few changes despite calls from Labour and some Tories to ease nearly a decade of austerity.

Green groups, industry bodies and individuals are invited to submit evidence on how the government can use the tax system to curb the use of plastic. Hammond's spokeswoman said it would help the government to make better judgments about whether Britain needed "fewer bridges, more programmers".

The OBR estimates that the total cost of the financial settlement to the European Union will be £37.1bn. 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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