Autumn Budget 2017
Enemies to the left of him, enemies to the right, the Chancellor faced a tough second Budget when he stood up at the despatch box. Following an election campaign that didn’t go to plan and a torrid few months since, the hope amongst many Conservative backbenchers was that this would be a Budget to re-galvanise their party and provide a more optimistic narrative.
The context was tricky; growth forecasts have been revised down, meaning less tax revenue down the line.
In the event, the approach set out by Philip Hammond is set to cost around £19bn over the next five years, with most of the spending occurring in 2019-20 (the year of Brexit). The Chancellor addressed some of the most pressing points of criticism that have been levied at him: £3bn to prepare for all Brexit scenarios; investment to increase housebuilding; abolishing stamp duty for most first time buyers; a freeze on fuel and diesel duty, as well as on booze; £1.5bn to head off concerns across all parties on Universal Credit; and more money for the NHS.
Combined with further measures to boost infrastructure and digital capabilities, as well as walking away from reducing the VAT threshold (which would have hit small businesses, including HHA Members), many in Westminster feel the Chancellor has given Conservative backbenchers enough to support and not too much to criticise.