YP Comment: Playing for time

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BY raising borrowing, and by slowing down the eradication of Britain’s deficit as economic growth slows, Philip Hammond bought himself time with an Autumn Statement intended to reassure.

The Chancellor could do little else. The country is still hamstrung by the indebtedness of the past while noble ambitions to balance the books by the end of the decade are no more as a consequence of the UK voting to leave the European Union on June 23.

Until more is known about the Government’s Brexit strategy, and its wider implications, Mr Hammond is at the mercy of these unforeseen events and many will be disappointed that he could not show greater ambition on corporation tax in order to reassure entrepreneurs and investors that the UK will still be the best place to do business after the country’s exit from the EU.

Let’s hope the Chancellor, and the Prime Minister for that matter, can be more effective than their predecessors when it comes to providing Yorkshire with the world-class transport infrastructure and skills base that is even more urgent.

Though many of the announcements had been trailed previously, Mr Hammond did, at the very least, publish two detailed strategies, one on skills and the other on the Northern Powerhouse, which will make a material difference to this region’s future prospects if they do come to fruition. Yet the Chancellor’s challenge now is delivering these promises. If not, the Government will find itself in an even bigger jam as it attempts to help all those families who are just about managing in these uncertain times.

Autumn Statement: Treasury faced with £56bn Brexit black hole

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