World Economy

UK Economy Facing Sharp Challenges

Philip HammondPhilip Hammond

Chancellor Philip Hammond has said he aims to make the economy “match fit for the opportunities and challenges ahead” as the UK approaches Brexit.

Ahead of his first Autumn Statement, he said the economy was facing “a larger degree of uncertainty than usual” and he intended to make it “water-tight”, BBC reported.

The treasury has confirmed an extra £1.3 billion ($1.60 billion) will be spent on UK roads to cut congestion and upgrade local routes.

Labor has urged Hammond to reverse cuts to in-work benefits.

Hammond told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show the UK economy was facing a “sharp challenge”, but he wanted to support people who “work hard and by and large do not feel that they are sharing in the prosperity that economic growth is bringing to the country”.

He said his Autumn Statement—one of two big economic statements of the year—would “focus on making sure that our economy is match-fit for the opportunities and the challenges that lie ahead.”

But he said the UK had to “maintain our credibility” as it still had a significant deficit: “I want to make sure that the economy is watertight. That we have enough headroom to deal with any unexpected challenges over the next couple of years and most importantly, that we’re ready to seize the opportunities of leaving the European Union.”

His comments come amid reports that the UK is facing a projected £100 billion “black hole” in its finances due to the UK vote to leave the European Union.

Asked about continued calls for the government to say more about its aims in Brexit negotiations with the other EU states, Hammond pointed to the “commendable discipline” from other European leaders regarding their opening position.

He said Prime Minister Theresa May must be given the same “flexibility” to go in to the talks without revealing all her cards in advance.

He added that he was “surprised by the degree to which the cabinet is coming together around a view of the opportunities and the challenges ahead”.

Earlier it was revealed that an extra £1.3 billion would be spent on improving UK roads, as part of a package of investment in infrastructure and innovation to boost long-term economic growth.

The roads investment will include £220 million to tackle “pinch-points” on highways and roads.


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