Britain’s economic growth forecast revised down as Brexit effect takes hold

London, Nov 24 (IANS) Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond on Wednesday revised down growth forecasts for the British economy for 2017 and 2018.

Hammond told lawmakers in his House of Commons speech that Britain’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2017 would be 1.4 per cent, down from 2.2 per cent predicted seven months ago, Xinhua news agency reported.

That was in his predecessor George Osborne’s final budget before he was swept from office in the wake of the Brexit vote, and the downward revision in GDP is also in part a reaction to the referendum decision to quit the European Union (EU).

Hammond based his figures on data from the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), the official economic data agency, which lowered the forecast for 2018 too, from 2.1 per cent to 1.7 per cent. However growth for 2019 and 2020 was forecast as the same, at 2.1 per cent.

Britain’s public sector net debt is also forecast to be higher, continuing to rise as a share of GDP, peaking at 90.2 per cent in 2017-2018. The March Budget had forecast that debt was to start falling this year, and be down to 81.3 per cent by 2017-2018.

Hammond vowed that spending would “return to balance as early as is practicable in the next parliament”.

Britain’s productivity has remained stagnant since the financial crisis, and raising productivity was “essential to deliver higher living standards for working people”, said Hammond.