Forget Hammond's optimism - There is no "light at the end of the tunnel" for families across the country

Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement was characterised by dangerous complacency and offers no light at the end of the tunnel for families across the country, according to Positive Money Executive Director Fran Boait. 

The Chancellor attempted to deliver a more upbeat statement amidst the uncertainty that surrounds the UK economy, pointing to signals for stronger growth and falling inflation.

But his sentiment hasn’t been as warmly received as he might have hoped.

John McDonnell accused Philip Hammond of ‘complacency’, saying he “hasn’t he listened to the doctors and nurses, the teachers, the police officers, the carers and even his own councillors?

“They are telling him they can’t wait for the next Budget. They’re telling him to act now.

“For eight years they’ve been ignored by this government. And today – they’ve been ignored again.”

Boait, from not-for-profit Positive Money which campaigns for a money and banking system that supports a fair, sustainable and democratic economy, was equally pessimistic about the UK’s long-term prospects. 

She said: “Today’s Spring Statement was characterised by dangerous complacency from the Chancellor. While public borrowing may be down, households across the country are falling deeper into the red. The continuation of austerity has taken money out of people’s pockets, which they’ve had to make up for with increased borrowing. As a result, private debt now amounts to 170% of GDP, providing a far bigger drag on the economy than the much worried about public debt, which stands at 85%.

“Despite Philip Hammond’s cheerier outlook, there is no ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for families across the country. The latest figures show credit card borrowing growing by the largest amount since the run-up to the crisis, and households will only be plunged deeper into debt, with benefit freezes still scheduled to go ahead in April.

“The Chancellor’s speech today was an opportunity to address Britain’s ticking private debt timebomb. There should have been pledges to deliver the investment in housing, infrastructure and public services that the country is crying out for, which would in turn put more money into the real economy and people’s pockets.”

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