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Posted on: 21 Mar, 18

There was no red briefcase, no red book, and no tax changes as the chancellor announced updated economic forecasts in a speech lasting less than half the length of any of his previous statements.

Not that it comes as a surprise seeing that Hammond moved this to a Tuesday, rather than keeping it in its usual slot straight after prime minister's questions on a Wednesday.

Far from being a second financial statement of the tax year, the chancellor unveiled the latest economic forecasts alongside a raft of consultations.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) revised its forecast for growth up to 1.5% — a rise of 0.1 % on the previous forecast announced in Autumn Budget 2017.

However, GDP is expected to fall back to 1.3% in 2019 and 2020 as the OBR left its November 2017 forecast unchanged.

Borrowing fell to £45.2 billion in 2017/18 — £4.7 billion lower than the OBR's forecast in November 2017, while Hammond confirmed any further borrowing is expected to fund capital investment only. Debt is also expected to start falling as a share of GDP in 2018/19, according to the OBR. Aside from updated economic forecasts, the rest of the chancellor's attention focused on policy consultations — some new, others previously announced.

These consultations may feed into Autumn Budget 2018.

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