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CHRIS GILES: Philip Hammond has just delivered his second budget. These are my four big takeaways from the speech he's just given.
Number one, the economic forecasts are really bad. If you just compare the UK economy two years ago after the 2015 election, we thought this year the economy would grow 2.4%. Now that forecast is down to 1.5%.
But perhaps more importantly, the longer-term forecasts for what is possible for the UK economy has been downgraded very significantly. Again, two years ago, 2.5% a year the Office for Budget Responsibility thought was possible without generating inflation. Now that's down to 1.6% a year. So we've lost about a third of our annual growth rate we could expect every year into the medium term.
The second big takeaway is that it's the chancellor's ambition to turn these forecasts around. He's not achieved it yet, but that's the key message he wanted to give - that the economy is now on the mend a little bit. Debt is beginning to fall as a share of national income. And he wants to make Britain a more productive and a faster-growing place, because he knows that's the only way he'll have more money.
And so we heard a lot of packages of investments around the country, infrastructure, science - things that will mean, ultimately, there is a lot of money going into capital investment, in a way back to the mid-2000s, much higher than the early part of the Labour government in the late '90s, and much higher than the early part of the coalition government earlier this decade.
This is real money. The Office for Budget Responsibility doesn't buy it yet. It's not saying it's not accepting this will work and it will turn the corner for the medium term of the economy, but that's what the chancellor wants to do.
My third big takeaway is that there really isn't a lot of money to spare. Because the economy has been downgraded, the public finances, except for this year, are pretty much worse in every year of the forecast, so much so that the amount of leeway, the margin for error against his budgetary rule in 2020 that the chancellor has, has almost halved from 26 billion to just under 15 billion pounds. He doesn't have a lot of leeway left if we do get a shock with Brexit hitting the economy hard.
And my fourth big takeaway is that there is a lot of action on the housing market, from an abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers buying a property under 300,000 pounds to additional taxes on people who've got country homes or empty properties in London, let's say, to building a 44-billion-pound programme - not of government money.
These are loans hoping the private sector, essentially, is going to do the building and get the rate of new homes - not necessarily new builds, but new homes-- up to about 300,000 a year from the current rate of about 200,000.