March 13, 2018 02:20:47by

All the key points you need from the Spring Statement 2018 at a glance

All the key points you need from the Spring Statement 2018 at a glance

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Chancellor Philip Hammond has today promised "light at the end of the tunnel" as he unveiled his 2018 Spring Statement.

But his meagre 26-minute speech was a far more slimmed down affair than a Budget - with no tax or spending changes to help those suffering under NHS pay austerity or benefit cuts.

Economic forecasts revealed GDP growth will be at a wincing low of 1.5% in years to come, worse than predicted. But debt is due to come down, and austerity could be slimmed back after a major review next year.

Meanwhile a series of consultations was launched on plastic pollution, VAT and diesel by the Tory minister in the House of Commons.

Here are the key points from the Spring Statement at a glance.

Summary of the summary

The chancellor has been accused of "complacency" as he celebrated "marginal" improvements in the economy.

Philip Hammond promised there was "light at the end of the tunnel" after years of austerity.

But there was no new money for the ailing NHS, social care or struggling councils.

And the growth he announced for the UK is the lowest in any of the G7 nations.

The chancellor said he will increase public spending and investment in years ahead if public finances continue on this improved path and he insisted he was not somebody who believes "every available penny should be used to reduce the deficit".

But the shadow chancellor hit out at Philip Hammond's complacency and accused him of making political choices.

John McDonnell said: "We face - in every public service - a crisis on a scale we've never seen before".

The economy

'Light at the end of the tunnel'

The Chancellor unveiled figures on the economy - and said they showed "the first sustained fall in debt in 17 years - a turning point in this nation’s recovery from the financial crisis of a decade ago.

“Light at the end of the tunnel.”

He added: “We have to make sure it’s not the Shadow Chancellor’s train hurtling out of control... towards Labour’s next train wreck.”

The Government is set to run a "small" surplus on day-to-day spending in 2018/19, borrowing only for capital investment, said the Chancellor. And the Government is forecast to hit its borrowing target for 2020/21 with £15.4billion headroom.

Playing on his own reputation for gloom, he joked: "If there are any Eey-ores in this Chamber, they are over there. I, meanwhile, am at my most positively Tigger-like."

But GDP growth DOWN in 2021/22 - despite that 'recovery'

Year - Autumn Budget 2017 prediction - Prediction now

2018 1.4% 1.5% - UP

2019 1.3% 1.3% - SAME

2020 1.3% 1.3% - SAME

2021 1.5% 1.4% - DOWN

2022 1.6% 1.5% - DOWN

The national debt will however fall quicker than expected

Year - Autumn Budget 2017 prediction (% of GDP) - Prediction now

2017-18 86.5 85.6

2018-19 86.4 85.5

2019-20 86.1 85.1

2020-21 83.1 82.1

2021-22 79.3 78.3

2022-23 79.1 77.9

The rest

£1.5bn of Brexit preparation cash allocated

The Chancellor announced how £1.5bn of cash for Brexit will be spent in 2018/19.

Much of it is for preparations for 'No Deal' - even though the government is desperate to avoid it.

It includes the following. Look at the huge sums going to border and passport controls as officials face having to hire new staff - just in case there is no deal.

Tax could be raised on single-use plastics to stop pollution scourge

Tax could rise on single-use plastics in a bid to curb pollution that kills the environment.

The government today issued a “call for evidence” on plastic pollution that looks at the “whole supply chain” - including whether taxes and charges could have an impact.

The Chancellor said: “It will look at how the tax system can help drive the technological progress and behavioural change we need.”

More on housing - as 60,000 first time buyers 'benefit' from Stamp Duty cut

The Chancellor highlighted an already announced £44bn housing pot.

He said the Housing Minister is working with 44 councils that have bid for the £4.1bn housing infrastructure fund.

The government have just agreed a deal with the West Midlands - who have committed to deliver 215,000 homes by 2030-31, paid for by a £100m grant from the land remediation fund.

London will receive an extra £1.7bn to deliver a further 26,000 affordable homes - making 116,000 total by the end of 2021/22.

60,000 first time house buyers have already benefited from stamp duty relief announced at the autumn budget, the Chancellor added.

And government advisor Oliver Letwin has published an interim response in his review of whether the housing market is working.

Full spending review to be held in 2019

A full “detailed” Spending Review will be held in 2019.

This goes much further than the annual Budget. The Tories held them in 2010 and 2015 to enact sweeping austerity.

But this time the purpose may be to spend more.

The Chancellor said: “That is how responsible people budget.

“First you work out what you can afford, then you decide what your priorities are.”

If there is continued improvement in the finances, “I would have capacity to enable further increases in public spending and investment in the years ahead - while continuing to drive value for money to ensure not a single penny of precious taxpayers’ money is wasted.”

Consultation could strip away tax relief on 'red diesel' - but white van drivers may benefit

There will be a consultation on tax relief on ‘red diesel’.

It will examine whether “non agricultural red diesel tax relief” contributes to poor quality air, the Chancellor said.

He added “we’ll help the great British white van driver go green” by holding a consultation on reduced vehicle tax rates for the cleanest vans.

Business rates revaluation brought forward to 2021

The next business rates revaluation will be brought forward from 2022 to 2021.

Business rates will then be reviewed every three years from that date.

It follows a furore over the last revaluation which hit businesses with big extra bills.

A possible tax hike on multinational firms online

The government will consult “on a new VAT mechanism for online sales” to ensure the tax actually reaches the Exchequer.

This would be designed to ensure multinational digital firms pay their fair share.

Bigger reform is needed but in the meantime, the government warns, "there is a need to consider interim measures - such as revenue-based taxes."

But of course... no halt to benefit cuts

It comes just weeks before the Tories are hitting the poorest with the deepest benefit cuts in years.

Changes to the benefits system set to come in in April will affect 11 million families and amount to £2.5 billion in cuts to working-age benefits, according to research from the Resolution Foundation.

Benefits for many people are frozen, child tax credits are limited to the first two children, the family element is being withdrawn from child tax credits costing families £545, and some will lose out under new benefit Universal Credit.

All these moves are previously announced, but that doesn't make them any less painful. See more on this from us last year below.

Labour's response

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell reeled off a hit parade of Tory cuts, rising homelessness and an impending crisis in children’s social care.

“People know now that austerity was a political choice - not an economic necessity,” he said.

“The Conservatives chose to cut taxes for the super-rich, the corporations and the bankers. And it was paid for by the rest of us in society.

“We were never all in this together as they claimed - never.”

He added: “Today we have the indefensible spectacle of the Chancellor congratulating himself on marginally improved economic forecasts.

“While he refuses to lift a finger as councils go bust, the NHS and social care are in crisis, school budges are cut, homelessness has doubled and wages are falling.

“This isn’t a government preparing our country for the future - it’s a government setting us up to fail.”