Hammond set to unveil consultation on plastic tax

Philip Hammond and Jean Claude Juncker

GETTY•PAPhilip Hammond declares'light at the end of the tunnel despite European Commission report

Until 2016, major tax changes were announced early in the year, in the Spring Budget, while the Autumn speech was primarily for economic forecasts.

Chancellor Philip Hammond today unveiled lower government borrowing forecasts as slightly stronger growth and higher tax receipts boosted the public finances.

Yet in reply, Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: "Does the chancellor really believe the NHS can wait another eight months for the lifesaving funds it needs?"

The chancellor said the economy was on track to grow a little faster than expected this year, despite the prospects for weaker growth in the medium term.

He also said the Department for Education would release up to £80 million to help small businesses with the apprenticeship levy.

Hammond said the Treasury will launch a call for evidence to examine options on reducing single-use plastics, including taxes.

Furthermore, the government has said that it is working with 44 areas which have submitted bids to the Housing Infrastructure fund, to make sure that only those homes that are needed are being built.

Sarah Hewin, chief economist for Europe at Standard Chartered, said the latest forecasts announced by Hammond looked sub-par:"The surprise for many people is how little has changed.it's a pretty weak trajectory". Nonetheless the upgrade remains good news - as does the 1.3 per cent growth for 2019/20 which remains unchanged, indicating that the prospect of Brexit is no worse than forecasters last thought it was.

He said "substantial progress" has been made in Brexit talks.

Estimates from the Office for Budget Responsibility say the United Kingdom economy has grown 1.7 per cent in 2017, compared to the previous forecast of 1.5 per cent announced in the Autumn Budget in November.

The predictions, made by Office for Budget Responsibility, would put the United Kingdom among the slowest among major economies as global growth picks ups, and are also drastically more pessimistic than those from before the Brexit referendum.

"GDP growth is expected to remain subdued, slowing gradually to 1.3% in 2018 and to 1.1% in 2019".

Inflation hit 3.1% in November 2017, but the OBR predicted it had reached its peak.

By 2021 the growth forecast was 1.4 percent, compared with a previous forecast of 1.5 percent.

It comes as the Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated that Britain's financial settlement with the European Union will cost £37.1 billion.

Mr Hammond said his deputy Elizabeth Truss would publish the departmental allocation of more than £1.5 billion of Brexit preparation funding for 2018-19.

There is also going to be a review of a possible tax on single use plastic.

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