Autumn Budget 2017: Treasury cool on "radical" Budget

 
Catherine Neilan
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The Chancellor Of The Exchequer Delivers His First Autumn Statement
Hammond has previously said the best word to describe him is "fiscal" (Source: Getty)

Chancellor Philip Hammond might be coming under pressure to unveil a "radical" - and vote-winning - Budget, but anyone expecting "big, bold" announcements could yet be disappointed.

Hammond, who has in the past said "fiscal" is the best word to describe him, is currently canvassing the opinion of hundreds of MPs and other groups, sifting through thousands of submissions ahead of the big day on 22 November.

Ideas being put forward include wiping off huge chunks of student debt and ploughing taxpayer money into housing, costing billions between them. Other suggestions include tax cuts for the young, a reduction in stamp duty for first time buyers, a freeze on fuel duty and a reversal of the duty on Scotch whisky.

A Treasury source said Hammond was considering "wide-ranging options, but anything beyond that is just speculation".

However, City A.M. understands that any suggestion that the Budget will contain any "big offer" are thought to be wide of the mark, regardless of the political capital that may be generated.

It is thought the focus will be more on being "sensible" with the nation's purse-strings and Hammond's recent refusal to allocate funds for a "no deal" scenario is being underscored as evidence of his "responsible" way with public cash.

The Autumn Budget will be unveiled against a backdrop of weakening economic data, including an expected rise in inflation to above three per cent.

It also comes amid growing hostility directed towards Hammond himself, from Cabinet colleagues apparently unhappy over his "Eeyoreish" approach to Brexit and the nation's finances more generally.

Over the weekend he was forced to apologise after he referred to the EU27 as "the enemy".

One senior government source told the Sunday Times it was make or break for Hammond.

"Pre-conference there was very much a view that it had to be a safety first Budget. Now the view has galvanised that this Budget has got to be big, it’s got to be powerful, it’s got to be revolutionary," the source said.

"Saying it’s got to be brave is really understating it. People are very clear that this is basically the last chance."

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