BRITAIN has reached a “turning point” following a “long road” of austerity, Philip Hammond has said.
Speaking ahead of his Spring Statement on Tuesday, the Chancellor said a “balanced” approach of addressing national debt while “investing in Britain’s future” meant there was now “light at the end of the tunnel”.
Mr Hammond’s upbeat message came as a group of Eurosceptic economists stated that the Government should prepare to reward workers and businesses with tax cuts and investment in key public services, in order to take advantage of the “huge economic opportunities” stemming from the UK’s departure from the EU. The Chancellor has abandoned the use of the annual statement as a mini Budget, in favour of what is expected to be a 15-20 minute speech.
He is likely to set out updated economic forecasts, including details of the likely divorce payments to the EU, and announce details of consultations on the “design” of the VAT threshold and using taxes to cut down on plastic use.
He is also expected to update the Commons on a review being carried out by Sir Oliver Letwin, the Conservative MP, on the gap between planning permissions granted to developers and the number of homes being built.
Mr Hammond said: “Thanks to the hard work of the British people, we’re now at a turning point. Over the last two quarters we have seen the first signs that productivity growth – the key to higher wages – may be increasing … It has been a long road – and there is still work to be done – but I am confident that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
In a paper published today, the Eurosceptic Economists for Free Trade group forecasts that from 2020 the Treasury will have a “Brexit windfall” of more than £25billion a year.
Professor Patrick Minford, the group’s chairman, said: “We are nearing the end of austerity and the Government should now look to reward hard-working British people and businesses with tax cuts and investment in key public services.”