Drop in UK growth forecast limits chancellor’s budget wriggle room

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The government’s economical forecaster has chopped its prediction for UK maturation this year, limiting the Treasury’s spending firepower successful the forthcoming budget, according to a report.

In a determination that volition acceptable the baseline for Treasury’s calculations earlier the fund successful March, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is understood to person provided a preliminary outlook that shows a weaker rebound this twelvemonth from a play of precocious ostentation and falling surviving standards.

According to a study successful the Times, the OBR has told the chancellor helium volition person £9bn little income aft a autumn successful taxation receipts compared with a forecast made successful November.

OBR unit supply Jeremy Hunt with 2 autarkic assessments of the system each twelvemonth and however this volition impact the government’s finances based connected the Treasury’s spending plans. In a longstanding arrangement, the OBR gives an archetypal presumption to Treasury officials for them to statesman the process of drafting fund proposals.

In November, the OBR forecast that portion the system would shrink by 1.4% this twelvemonth it would prime up adjacent year, with GDP averaging astir 2.6% implicit the remainder of the forecast period. However, the OBR intends to trim its forecasts by betwixt 0.2% and 0.5% owed to weakness successful the system and labour shortages, the study said.

“There seems to beryllium a presumption retired determination that Hunt abruptly has each this wealth to play with for taxation cuts,” 1 authorities fig told the Times. “But that is not the presumption internally. The OBR figures suggest that the prospects for medium-term economical maturation volition really beryllium worse than they were successful November.”

Inflation is expected to autumn during the summer, taking the unit disconnected the Bank of England to proceed raising the outgo of borrowing.

There person been expanding signs of economical optimism globally, with the caput of the International Monetary Fund telling the World Economic Forum successful Davos past week that the planetary economical outlook is “less bad” than feared.

Rishi Sunak has pledged to halve ostentation by the extremity of the twelvemonth from its existent level supra 10%.

The OBR is expected to accidental that labour shortages volition proceed to unit wages, creating what it calls “second-round effects” that volition support ostentation higher for longer than it antecedently estimated.

If ostentation falls lone modestly, BoE officials could support borrowing costs elevated for a sustained period.

Hunt is already facing a terrible spending compression aft the authorities pledged to subsidise the vigor costs of each households, alternatively than enactment successful spot a much blase strategy that constricted the payment to low- and middle-income earners.

Official figures showed connected Tuesday that the outgo of the subsidy, higher borrowing costs and other wellness spending pushed authorities borrowing to a grounds levelin December.

Public assemblage borrowing deed £27.4bn, the highest for December since equivalent records began, according to the Office for National Statistics. Government borrowing is £9.8bn higher than OBR projections astatine the clip of the autumn statement.

The OBR said: “A archetypal circular of the economical forecast that provides the ground for our forecast for the nationalist finances has been sent to the Treasury.

“We won’t publish, oregon remark connected immoderate of the numbers successful the mentation stages of the forecast arsenic it is not a implicit presumption – the last forecast volition beryllium published alongside the fund connected 15 March.”

A Treasury spokesperson said the OBR forecast would lone beryllium discussed aft it was published with the fund successful March: “We are focused connected halving ostentation this year, reducing indebtedness and increasing the system – which volition make amended paid jobs and accidental for everyone.”

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