Budget 2017: Key points from Philip Hammond’s speech
- Credit: PA
The Budget sets out a plan for a 'brighter future' as the UK leaves the European Union, the Chancellor has told MPs.
Delivering his first Budget, Philip Hammond said the UK economy had 'continued to confound the commentators' by delivering 'robust growth'.
With Prime Minister Theresa May expected to start the formal Brexit process within weeks, Mr Hammond told the Commons: 'As we start our negotiations to exit the European Union, this Budget takes forward our plan to prepare Britain for a brighter future; it provides a strong and stable platform for those negotiations.'
He added: 'We are building the foundations of a stronger, fairer, more global Britain.'
Mr Hammond was given a boost as the Office for Budget Responsibility sharply upgraded growth forecasts for 2017 from 1.4% to 2%.
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In 2018 growth is forecast to slow to 1.6%, before picking up to 1.7%, then 1.9%, and back to 2% in 2021, the Chancellor said.
In a speech littered with jokes - despite being nicknamed 'Spreadsheet Phil' because of his usual style - Mr Hammond set out a series of measures aimed at addressing the UK's productivity gap.
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The package included £300 million to fund research, including support for 1,000 PhD places and fellowships focused on science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects.
There was also £270 million to fund biotech, robotics and driverlesss vehicles, £16 million for 5G mobile technology and £200 million for broadband.
A £220 million transport fund for national roads will see £90 million for the North and £23 million for the Midlands, while councils will be able to bid for a share of £690 million to tackle urban congestion.
The Budget will also mean £350 million for the Scottish Government, £200 million for the Welsh Government and almost £120 million for an incoming Northern Ireland Executive .
With Mrs May attempting to see off the potential for a second Scottish independence referendum, Mr Hammond said his package was 'demonstrating once again that we are stronger together in this great United Kingdom'.
The crisis in social care in England has forced Mr Hammond to pledge an extra £2 billion over three years to help ease the pressure.
The money, with £1 billion promised in 2017/18, follows intense pressure from MPs and councils, but falls short of the levels of funding demanded by some campaigners.
Mr Hammond acknowledged the system was 'clearly under pressure', with the NHS suffering as a consequence.
In his first Budget, he said that, alongside the additional funding, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid will announce measures to identify and support councils which are 'struggling' and to ensure more 'joined-up working' with the NHS.
The Chancellor also announced a £100 million plan to ease the pressure in A&E units.
Referring to the Tory victory in the Copeland by-election, he said: 'We are the Government of the NHS.'