Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, has welcomed the Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement which today showed improved forecasts for growth and productivity in the UK economy in addition to reduced government borrowing.
Having moved to a single fiscal event at the last Autumn Budget, today’s Spring Statement did not introduce new tax and spending measures but instead provided an update on the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) forecasts and the progress made since the November Budget.
The Chancellor announced in his Statement that the OBR’s figures show our economy continuing to grow, with GDP growth exceeding expectations in 2017 at 1.7% – up from a previously forecasted 1.5%. Growth forecasts have consequently been revised upwards for 2018. The OBR’s figures also show that manufacturing has experienced the longest period of expansion in 50 years.
Employment has increased by 3 million since 2010, which is the equivalent of 1,000 people finding work every day. The unemployment rate is close to a 40-year low. There is also a joint record number of women in work – 15.1 million. The OBR predict there will be over 500,000 more people in work by 2022.
The OBR expect inflation to fall over the next 12 months, and wages to rise faster than prices over the next five years. The Chancellor also revealed that the nation’s public finances have now reached a turning point with borrowing down three-quarters since 2010. In 2009-10 the UK borrowed £1 in every £4 that was spent. The OBR expect that we will borrow £1 in every £18 this year.
Progress since the Autumn Budget
The Chancellor reported on a number of areas where progress has been made since the Autumn Budget in November. Not only are there more jobs forecast in every year of this Parliament, but on 1st April this year the National Living Wage is rising to £7.83 an hour – a pay rise of over £2,000 for full-time workers since 2010. Added to this, in the next tax year a standard rate taxpayer will pay £1,075 less income tax than they did in 2010-11, demonstrating the Government’s commitment not only to giving ordinary working people a pay rise, but also ensuring that they keep more of the money they earn.
It was announced that the Education Secretary will release up to £80million to support small businesses in taking on and training apprentices – a key campaign by the local Chamber of Commerce in Worcestershire that Robin has welcomed as an important investment in future jobs and skills.
At Autumn Budget 2017 it was announced that business rates revaluations will take place every three years, rather than every five years, following the next revaluation. This makes bills more accurately reflect the current rental value of properties. Today’s Spring Statement announced that the next revaluation, currently due in 2022, will be brought forward to 2021. This will mean businesses can benefit from the change to three-year revaluations earlier, with the first taking place in 2024.
Consulting on future changes to the tax system
A number of public consultations on future changes to the tax system were also announced by the Chancellor today, including on:
- How to use the tax system to encourage responsible use of plastic and cut down on disposable and single-use plastics.
- How best to help people and businesses adapt to the declining use of cash in the new economy and prevent the use of cash to evade tax and launder money.
- How to support upskilling and retraining through the tax system, including by extending tax relief to both self-employed people and employees who fund their own training.
Responses to all of these consultations can be submitted via HM Treasury website.
The Chancellor’s Spring Statement came a day after Robin addressed the Institute of Directors in his capacity as a Minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union. Robin spoke to senior business leaders in London on the Government’s view of a Global Britain, telling them that “the UK has one of the world’s largest and most successful economies…built on strong foundations and unique strengths that give us an advantage in comparison to other global economies”, and setting out a positive vision to support innovation and entrepreneurship through global trade.
Speaking after the Chancellor’s statement today, Robin said:
“This was a welcome statement on the good health of the UK economy by the Chancellor, with growth revised upwards by the independent OBR and the UK economy almost 17 per cent bigger than it was in 2010. We are getting debt falling as a percentage of GDP next year – meaning less money on debt repayments and more on our vital public services.”
“Labour, meanwhile, have made an additional £106 billion of spending commitments since the general election, proving they don’t know how to handle the economy. This amounts to an extra £3,907 borrowing for every household in the country. While the Government is making the economy work for everyone, Labour would rack up our debts, leaving us completely exposed to any future economic shocks and unable to sustain vital public services. Under Labour’s plans, debt interest would soar and we would be spending more on debt repayments than on our national defence.”
“I was really pleased to see an additional £80million being made available by the Department for Education to support small businesses take on and train apprentices. Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce have pushed for just such a measure and I am glad to see their campaign become a reality and for our local SMEs receive more support to train the next generation of high-skilled workers. Worcestershire has led the way in productivity growth in recent years, and measures like these will only help our local economy grow stronger. The rise in the National Living Wage will also make a huge difference to many of my constituents.”
“Speaking to the Institute of Directors yesterday I was pleased to set out the Government’s open and positive view of a Global Britain as we seek new trading relationships, the basis of which is our strong and growing economy and our world-class industries and services. Today’s Spring Statement demonstrates the growth and stability this Government has prioritised and serves as further proof that our economy is very much ‘in bloom.’”
Notes to editors
To read more on the Government’s Spring Statement 2018, see: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/spring-statement-2018
To submit responses to HM Treasury’s public consultations on the tax system, see:
For Robin’s previous statements on the Autumn Budget, see:
For a clip of Robin’s speech to the IoD on Monday 12th March, see https://twitter.com/The_IoD/status/973475471873794050