Spring Statement 2018: Philip Hammond to slash speech down to just 15 minutes in low-key approach

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Chancellor Philip Hammond will give a speech just 15 minutes long for this year’s Spring Statement and will make no spending announcements.

In a slimmed down event, Mr Hammond will simply give a brief response to fiscal forecasts produced by the Government’s public finance watchdog.

Civil servants have been briefing since the end of last year that the spring statement would not be a “major fiscal event”, but now they are making clear just how reduced it will be.

In recent years there have been two large fiscal events, the budget and a second fiscal statement either in the spring or autumn that has been politically used as a mini-budget to showcase new policies.

But one official told The Independent: “There will be no tax or spending announcements, it will be a much shorter statement, maybe only 15 minutes. There won’t be the photo-shoot outside Number 11.”

There will also be no major submission operation before the statement on March 13, which usually sees everyone from business groups, charities and members of the public send messages in to the Treasury setting out their needs for the year ahead.

The departure is part of a re-organisation of financial reporting instigated by the Chancellor, but also has taken place at the behest of businesses which complained that they were having to go through a major preparation process twice a year under the old system.

At a time when firms are already trying to plan ahead for Brexit, reducing the potential changes to the tax system is seen as a way of lowering uncertainty.

The statement may also be used to pitch ideas that will be cemented at the main budget statement later in the year, and launch some smaller consultations to that end.

But the bulk of it will be a response to forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility, which asses the UK’s growth prospects for the years ahead.