“…austerity is coming to an end – but discipline will remain” were the words the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, used to summarise his October Budget speech. That balance between continued cuts and excessive borrowing was evident in the measures announced today.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast that borrowing in 2018/19 will be £11.6 billion less than it forecast in March. But the Chancellor’s net tax giveaway for 2019/20 was only marginally higher at £15.1 billion, rising to over £30.5 billion by 2023/24. A large slice of that apparent generosity is down to increased NHS expenditure, which starts at £7.35 billion in 2019/20, rising to £27.6 billion by 2023/24.