Spring Statement: Hammond's complacency is astounding, says shadow chancellor

You could be taxed if you spit chewing gum out in the street

Ministers hope chewing gum will be considered alongside other environmentall damaging plastics

"It will look at how the tax system can help drive the technological progress and behavioural change that we need, not as a way of raising revenue but as a way of changing behaviour and encouraging innovation", Hammond said during his spring statement to parliament.

The improved outlook for growth means the government will borrow less by the early years of the next decade than previously forecast, Hammond said.

The government's slender majority meant Hammond had limited room for manoeuvre and scant political cover for any missteps, meaning he was always likely to make few changes despite calls from Labour and some Tories to ease nearly a decade of austerity.

The Chancellor claimed we are at a "turning point in the nation's recovery" as he announced the economy grew by 1.7 per cent in 2017, compared to the 1.5 per cent forecast at the Budget in November.

He also used his speech to attack the plans of the opposition Labour Party to spend and borrow more.

At the weekend Hammond said: "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". However the revisions indicate growth will slow in 2021 and 2022.

The UK government will negotiate a Brexit that delivers prosperity and jobs, Hammond said.

Despite the slow growth seen ahead for Britain, the government is on course to borrow 20.3 billion pounds ($28.4 billion) less in cumulative terms between 2017/18 and 2022/23 than it predicted in November.

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

While Hammond was arguably making more of the upgrade than it's worth, we could hardly have expected him to do anything different.

The door to 11 Downing Street, the official residence of Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, is seen in London, March 13, 2018.

They want to check a rise in support for the Labour Party which has promised to end the Conservative squeeze on public-sector pay and invest more in infrastructure.

The OBR predict that debt as a share of GDP will peak at 85.6 per cent in 2017-18 then fall to 85.5 per cent in 2018-19, then 85.1 per cent, 82.1 per cent the year after, 78.3 per cent in 2022, and finally 77.9 per cent in 2022-23.

Employment is high, and the OBR said that inflation would fall back to the Bank of England target of 2% by the end of the year.

"Businesses will be encouraged by the Chancellor's report on the UK's fiscal health, with lower projections for the deficit and falling national debt, as well as his full-throated defence of the market economy and the role of the private sector in delivering prosperity", said Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce.

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