The little speculation there was in the days before the Chancellor’s Spring Statement focused more on whether Mr Hammond would find anything of interest to say at all, than on what he would say.
The purpose of the Spring Statement is to respond to forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), although that has not always prevented Mr Hammond from making significant announcements.
While arguing that the “economy itself is remarkably robust”, Mr Hammond said that growth projections for 2019 have been revised down by the OBR from 1.6 per cent to 1.2 per cent.
Mr Hammond expects 600,000 new jobs to be created by 2023 and he said the OBR has revised wage growth up to around three per cent each year.
He announced £100 million to help the police fight knife crime and a commitment to end ‘period poverty’ by providing free sanitary products in secondary schools and colleges.
Mr Hammond said that he wanted to “build on the UK’s fundamental strengths”, announcing a £37 billion productivity fund, focusing on improving skills throughout the workforce.
He then said that the Government would respond later in the year to a recommendation in an independent review of competition in the digital economy, that rules should be updated for the digital age.
Saying that “we need to tackle the scourge of late payments”, he said that listed companies would have to report on their payment practices within their company accounts.
Mr Hammond devoted a significant part of his speech to housing and the environment, announcing £3 billion for the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme.
To allow time for the Commons to consider Brexit, Mr Hammond said that he would make some announcements in a Written Ministerial Statement, published at the end of his speech. This included preventing the abuse of R&D tax relief for small or medium-sized enterprises, draft regulations on the National Insurance Contributions (NIC) Employment Allowance that would restrict the allowance to businesses with an employer NIC bill below £100,000 and a call for evidence on lettings relief and the final period exemption, which extends private residence relief in capital gains tax.