United Kingdom economic growth forecasts revised up in Spring Statement

Britain's Finance Minister Philip Hammond delivers a speech on Brexit at HSBC's headquarters in Canary Wharf in London

At the Autumn Statement the OBR predicted public sector net borrowing of £49.9bn for the 2017-18 fiscal year, significantly lower than the £58.3bn borrowing for the year to April expected only a year ago.

In today's Spring Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond said that forecasts are "there to be beaten".

Hammond's statement was received with cheers on the Conservative benches, with MPs increasingly concerned about the pressures on their local public services, including the NHS.

Mr Hammond rejected Labour "doom and gloom" over the state of the economy, saying the recession repeatedly forecast by shadow chancellor John McDonnell since 2010 had failed to materialise.

Worryingly for Hammond, the OBR said the economy was already running slightly faster than it could do without generating excessive inflation, even as it lagged behind its historic growth rates.

Hammond said the education secretary will release up to £80m to help small firms take on apprentices.

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.

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The Chancellor talked up "substantial progress" on the Brexit talks so far and said he looks forward to "another important step forward next week at the European Council", when negotiating teams meet.

Promised to be a short update on forecasts, Philip Hammond's Spring Statement turned out to be 26 short minutes of politics: uplifting vision for the backbenchers and the television news, coupled with witty digs at the Opposition.

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.

Growth forecasts in 2019 and 2020 were kept unchanged at 1.3 percent and were cut for the following two years, according to the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, which judged a recent pick-up in productivity to be temporary. Growth in 2017 was 1.7%, compared with the 1.5% forecast by the OBR past year.

In 2021, GDP is forecast to rise to 1.4%, down from the 1.5% expected in the November budget.

His deputy Liz Truss said there would be no red box, no rabbits out of the hat and no tax changes.

In order to facilitate a shift away from plastics, Hammond will also announce a support fund of £20 million for businesses and universities investing in research around alternatives to single-use plastics.