Chancellor Philip Hammond will today give an upbeat assessment on the future of the British economy in his debut Budget, as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) becomes the latest body to upgrade its UK growth forecasts.
The influential Paris-based OECD yesterday said UK GDP growth will reach 1.6 per cent this year, up from its previous prediction of one per cent. The revision is the largest across the major economies surveyed by the OECD.
Despite the improving outlook, Hammond will commit to reducing the UK’s deficit as he adopts a cautious and resilient approach to what one government insider described as “Brexit-proofing Britain”.
The chancellor is expected to say he will not shirk difficult decisions on tax and spending as the country embarks on what has been dubbed “a new chapter outside the EU”.
As well as emphasising the need to put the public finances on a more solid footing, he will reveal his hopes of readying the country to compete on a global stage.
The chancellor’s plans for a post-Brexit world, which come just days before Article 50 is expected to be triggered, include targeted investments in technical skills and training designed to help the nation’s young people become equipped for the job markets of the future.
Hammond is expected to cite high-tech areas like artificial intelligence, robotics and nuclear energy as having the potential to bolster Britain’s technology expertise.
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Meanwhile, an index collected by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) shows that concerns over skills shortages are rising for employers.
“Businesses across the UK are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit for permanent roles. The big question still remains about how employers will fill their vacancies,” REC chief executive Kevin Green said.
The REC found that job vacancies rose to their highest point since mid-2015, continuing a strong recovery since dipping after the Brexit vote.
The number of permanent appointments also increased to the highest point in a year.