Accountancy body urges chancellor to end austerity in budget

No case for keeping to surplus plan, say Institute of Chartered Accountants and Fabian Society

Ditching the government’s budget plans and adopting Labour’s tax and spending proposals would allow Philip Hammond to ditch austerity and pencil in an extra £100bn of spending by the middle of the next decade, according to a leftwing thinktank.

In a report to be published later this week, the Fabian Society said there was no clear case for the chancellor to stick to his plan of running a surplus and that the emphasis should be on investment that would improve the economy’s growth rate.

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A budget to end austerity? Only if Hammond makes the rich pay | Polly Toynbee

Theresa May’s foolish promise offers an open goal for Labour if the chancellor fails to abolish tax relief for wealthy voters

How do Theresa May and Philip Hammond converse in private? I doubt he roared at her like Gordon Brown did at Tony Blair – “You’ve stolen my fucking budget” – even though she has. Prime ministers in a corner often do it. Blair did it from a TV sofa in 2000, panicking when a cash-starved NHS tipped into crisis: he pledged health spending would reach the EU average (an unknowable moving target). Familiar? May, facing a far worse NHS crisis, promised £20bn – and then went further. Confronting a fractious Tory conference she declared “an end to austerity” (meaning and price tag: equally unknowable).

Her Brexit conundrum of impossibilities is of her own making, drawing red lines round herself with no escape. Now she’s red-lined her chancellor: he must abolish the deficit, keep debt falling, cut tax thresholds and “end austerity”, just like that. Impossible, says the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the great arbiter. It will cost £19bn extra just to stand still, while still cutting another £7bn from benefits: in next Monday’s budget, the public won’t think that ends austerity. May’s foolish promise offers never-ending open goals for Labour.

Related: Philip Hammond urged to make moves to end austerity

Related: Hammond ‘would need £19bn a year to meet May’s end of cuts vow’

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