Opinion 

Hammond's teaser trailer for Autumn's big spend

Joe Roxborough

Joe Roxborough

All in all the Chancellor was keen to take advantage of some positive revisions from the OBR with a "forward-looking" statement, as he was keen to emphasise.

It's always great to hear anything about deficit reductions and that growth is being revised upwards rather than down.

Admittedly, this was no big surprise and I would be disappointed if we had yet more doom and gloom after so many years of austerity.

I am sceptical of all government statistics (particularly after reading David Pilling's excellent book, The Growth Delusion, which I strongly recommend) and these figures are always carefully filtered with other key elements omitted, but at least there were a lot of positive indicators across the board.

I suppose we can only take so many negative predictions about Brexit before there is a reversion upward.

I was delighted to hear so many buyers have benefited from the reduction in stamp duty for first time buyers (60,000 people have used this).

We are still far from my dream scenario of it being paid on sales rather than purchases, but its a step in the right direction.

Getting on the property ladder continues to be a huge issue for most young people, and with wages still way behind asset price growth, at least this removes one hurdle for those trying to accumulate capital for a deposit while renting.

In many ways this felt like a positive teaser trailer for the Budget-proper later in the year. With the deficit being reduced, does this mean we can expect more spending on NHS and infrastructure?

One would like to think so, but with approximately £1.7trn in national debt, a budget surplus still being a touch out of reach, and Brexit uncertainties on the horizon, perhaps the purse strings will remain closed a little longer?  

Brexit in particular wasn't mentioned in great detail, although the frequency of mentions of an "outward looking" economy could be interpreted as a positive venture into the wider global economy, or a desperate search for someone to do business with depending on your interpretation!

In summary, I continue to remain positive but cautious following the statement, much like I was before I began.

I have faith in UK PLC in the long run, but with so many variables in the next couple of years, the road may be bumpier for the average citizen than Mr Hammond's rosy outlook implies.

Joe Roxborough is a chartered financial planner for Ascot Lloyd

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