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#SpringStatement2018: Is Spring Statement a time to look to the future?

In the Autumn of 2016 the Chancellor announced that the government will now move to a single major fiscal event each year, taking place in the Autumn. Admittedly, since then we’ve have two Budgets, but that was to be expected due to the need to synchronise the policymaking and legislative cycles.

The business community responded warmly to this change with Carolyn Fairbairn stating that “reducing the frequency of fiscal events along with the commitment to stick to the tax roadmap will provide stability for businesses”. Now, over a year later, on 13th March the Chancellor will deliver his first Spring Statement.

We know that the Chancellor will use his time at the despatch box to update the country on the latest economic and public finances forecasts from the OBR. Data released by the ONS in January showed that public sector borrowing decreased by £7.2bn between April 2017 and January 2018, meaning that it will likely fall well below the OBR’s November forecast. This makes it far less likely that the Chancellor will need to invoke the power to make changes to fiscal policy to respond to the economic circumstances.

So, will his short speech really be a dry run-though of the economic and fiscal numbers? Perhaps. But, it may also be an opportunity to look ahead to the future challenges and opportunities for the UK economy. This doesn’t necessarily mean any new money at this stage. But, from boosting productivity, trade and skills as well as capturing the benefits of AI and digital there is certainly plenty to talk about.

Written by Annie Gascoyne, CBI head of economic policy. If you would like to know more please contact Fiona.Geskes@cbi.org.uk.