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  • Spreadsheet Phil borrows his way out

    Portland’s Chief Adviser George Pascoe-Watson provides his immediate in-depth analysis, concluding that the Chancellor has done ‘just enough’.

    Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis speaks to Portland’s Richard Suchet, former Sky News and LBC presenter, on what policies would have resonated with the everyday person.

    Chancellor Philip Hammond today saved his Cabinet skin by deciding to borrow Britain’s way out of economic ruin in a Budget aimed at budding homeowners.

    Spreadsheet Phil was patted on the back by Premier Theresa May as he played a near-impossible Budget hand.

    He confessed Britain’s economic growth prospects are in the doldrums with one third of expectations vanishing virtually overnight.

    GB Plc will drag along the bottom up to the next General Election in 2022 which will be another hammer blow to living standards.

    But the Chancellor managed to find around £25billion in giveaways over the coming years, investment which will be paid for largely by borrowing.

    His decision flies in the face of Conservative thinking which has routinely condemned Labour’s similar plans for decades.

    But Mr Hammond – backed by a growing number of modernising Tory thinkers – agreed the time was right to loosen the strings because UK debt is manageable.

    The Chancellor focused the lion’s share of his Budget on housebuilding and homeowning as he made a direct bid for first-time buyers’ votes.

    He won Conservative cheers as he abolished stamp duty for people trying to get on the housing ladder for the first time.

    But Treasury documents later showed only 3,500 people are likely to benefit from the decision initially.

    The move will be a shot in the arm for homeowners as it will mean higher property prices, experts predicted.

    Crucially, the Chancellor refused to bow to demands to increase pay for most public sector workers.

    Nor did he even mention students, despite pressure from Labour to cut tuition fees.

    Mr Hammond also nodded to the Conservative “green” drive as he confirmed plans for plastic packaging taxes.

    He also held out hope for homeless people and found cash for industrial research and development grants.

    But the growth predictions facing the UK are now extremely grim.

    It was the first time in modern British history that our annual growth is expected to fall below 2%.

    The impact on the cost of living will be immense, ministers privately admit.

    Worryingly, the UK is alone amongst its European competitors who are all on a higher growth forecast.

    The Office of Budget Responsibility warned that foreign firms’ uncertainty over Britain’s Brexit future will hamper the economy.

    Critics were quick also to point out that the Chancellor funnelled another £3billion of taxpayers’ cash into Brexit emergency funds, on top of £700m previously reserved.

    This is more than the £2.8billion he found today to keep the NHS afloat during the coming winters.

    Mr Hammond took a swipe at technology companies by taxing their royalties at UK rates in a bid to raise some cash.

    One of the early announcements was a special fund to boost maths teaching in Britain.

    Let’s hope the Chancellor has done his sums right as he prepares to borrow to make sure the UK is fit for its uncertain future.

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