Chancellor Hammond’s Spring Budget stood out for its plentiful humour, with his jokes primarily aimed towards Jeremy Corbyn on the opposing bench and much to the delight of the chamber. Newspapers, however, have since dammed many details in the proposed budget stating that this is no laughing matter, including some MP’s from Mr Hammond’s own backbench.
In his first and last spring budget as Chancellor, there was perhaps a sense of economic complacency as Mr Hammond’s new policy measures numbered 28, rather than the 77 announced by Mr Osborne a year ago. The focus of this Budget was on “fairness in the tax system” and to help small business with rate rises and the funding of social care.
The trumpeted facts were cited from the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBSR) expectations that the economy will grow by 2% this year, up from its 1.4% forecast in the Autumn Budget. The assessment over the medium term however was slightly reduced since November, with the net result that GDP in 2021 is expected to be broadly the same as forecast in the Autumn Statement.
OBSR have said there had been no structural improvement in the public finances, yet the additional fiscal headroom allowed by Mr Hammond in 2019 to counter any Brexit shock fell by over £1 billion.