UK's sluggish economy to grow a bit more quickly: Hammond

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Hammond planned to announce a pared back statement - rather than a full-blown Budget announcement - after the United Kingdom faced criticism from worldwide bodies for having two big "fiscal events" per year.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, gave a robust response to the speech, criticising the "indefensible spectacle" of a chancellor "failing to lift a finger" to help struggling local authorities and the NHS.

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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.

In addition, the chancellor revealed that the OBR's forecast for 2018 was similarly more rosy than previously expected, rising from 1.4 to 1.5 per cent.

GDP is expected to grow faster in 2018, Hammond said, adding "we did it in 2017 and we should make it our business to do it again".

Theresa May's spokesman said Mr Hammond claimed there was still work to be done, but the Government would always take a balanced approach to reducing the debt, investing in public services and keeping taxes low.

"The economy has slightly more momentum in the near term, thanks to the unexpected strength of the world economy, but there seems little reason to change our view of its medium-term growth potential", it said.

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The chancellor also announced a series of consultations, including a call for evidence on cracking down on plastic waste; and research by the Office for National Statistics into how to better measure human capital.

Inflation hit 3.1% in November 2017, but the OBR predicted it had reached its peak. Growth in 2017 was 1.7%, compared with the 1.5% forecast by the OBR previous year.

These have been revised to 1.5% in 2018, 1.3% in 2019 and 2020, 1.4% in 2021 and 1.5% in 2022.

Hammond also looked comfortably on course to meet another target to cut the budget deficit, when adjusted for the swings of the economic cycle, to 2 percent of GDP by the 2020/21 financial year.

The economy has seen higher employment and lower unemployment, adding 3 million jobs, he said.

He addressed the regular meeting of Cabinet ahead of his spring statement to the House of Commons. Those looking for any major spending or policy announcements will be left disappointed.

Within the November Budget, the Chancellor announced plans to use the tax system to support the Government's goal of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

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