Chancellor Philip Hammond to unveil spring statement

Philip Hammond and Jean Claude Juncker

GETTY‚ÄĘPAPhilip Hammond declares'light at the end of the tunnel despite European Commission report

Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered a pared-down spring statement on Tuesday which said the United Kingdom economy is faring better than predicted.

Mr Hammond has said he will not announce any new tax or spending policies when he addresses Parliament at 1230 GMT in a speech expected to last only around 20 minutes.

Senior government figures have told the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg that cabinet ministers have been discussing ways to funnel more money to the NHS in England, including potential future tax rises or a specific tax for health.

"And we are forecast to meet our cyclically adjusted borrowing target in '20-21 with 15.4 billion pounds headroom broadly as forecast at the Budget".

In a break with recent tradition, the chancellor will not be using the spring statement as a "mini-Budget".

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Chancellor Philip Hammond set out his vision of an "outward-looking, free-trading nation, one that is confident that our best days lie ahead of us".

The country's official budget forecasters are expected to say on Tuesday they are raising their projection for economic growth this year, after cutting it to 1.4 per cent in November, at the time of the last budget statement.

The Chancellor also talked about the need to reduce plastic waste, how the tax system can drive technological change, and £20m of funds available now to businesses and universities to stimulate new thinking on the subject.

He is expected to reveal that tax receipts are covering day-to-day government spending for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis.

Those forecasts, based on the assumption that Britain would stay in the European Union, saw growth of above 2 percent for each year between 2018 and 2021.

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Growth also looks set to be slightly higher than forecast previous year - but public debt as a percentage of national income remains well above 80%.

Mr Hammond told Theresa May and her senior ministers that "thanks to the hard work of the British public, there is light at the end of the tunnel".

And after the Chancellor compared Labour to gloomy cartoon character Eeyore and himself to the more optimistic Tigger, shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne joked that Mr Hammond was "talking Pooh".

"Our public services are at breaking point and many of our local councils are near bankruptcy".

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