Chancellor holds out prospect of spending spree

The Chancellor announced how he is to spend the extra funds available in the 2019 Spring Statement.

Piled up pounds coins
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond unveiled his Spring Statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon but, as usual, the cloud of Brexit hovered over it all.

Brexit hangs over Hammond's Spring Statement

Mr Hammond said the previous day's vote when MPs again rejected the EU Withdrawal Agreement had left "a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the economy", adding that his most urgent task was to lift it.The chancellor said there could be a £26.6 billion "deal dividend" in government spending if the UK left the EU with a deal. He said he would decide in the Spending Review later this year on how to spend extra funds on public services, capital investment and keeping taxes low.But Mr Hammond warned that the country's economic progress would be at risk in a no-deal scenario. However, he maintained he confident MPs would agree a smooth and orderly EU withdrawal "over the coming weeks".Coinciding with the statement was a new economic forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which now believes GDP growth will be 1.2 per cent this year and 1.4 per cent next.

OBR economic forecast gives mixed news

The OBR said it expected 600,000 new jobs to be created by 2023, with annual wage growth running at three per cent or higher over each of the next five years."Economic growth in the UK and globally has slowed since the Budget in October, leading us to revise down our near-term GDP forecast. But tax receipts have performed better than we expected in the final months of 2018-19 and we judge that much of this buoyancy will endure," said the OBR."Together with downward pressure on debt interest spending from lower market interest rates, this delivers a modest medium-term improvement in the public finances. The chancellor has banked most of it in lower borrowing, but has spent some on higher, planned public services spending."

OBR confirms chancellor has extra spending at his disposal

The OBR also confirmed that, thanks to higher income tax returns and lower debt interest spending, the chancellor now had more than £26 billion of extra spending at his disposal, up from £15.4 billion in October.For the moment, Mr Hammond announced up to £260 million for an economic growth project on the the border regions between England and Scotland, and said negotiations were in progress for similar deals for mid-Wales and Derry/Londonderry.The chancellor also said that a £700 million package to help small businesses take on more apprentices - originally due to start in 2020 - would be brought forward to the start of the new financial year in April.He also said that, from June, the UK would start begin to abolish the requirement for paper landing cards at points of entry to the country and will allow citizens of the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Singapore and South Korea to use e-gates at airports and Eurostar terminals.The government is also to launch a £3 billion Affordable Homes Guarantee scheme to support construction of some 30,000 affordable homes, Mr Hammond said. Additionally, £717 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund would be used to unlock up to 37,000 new homes on sites in west London, Cheshire, Didcot and Cambridge.Enter the 2019 Relocate Awards in-text bannerSubscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online Directory

Related Articles