Philip Hammond ‘considers dropping’ Autumn Statements

Posted On: 
24th October 2016

Philip Hammond is reportedly considering abolishing the annual Autumn Statement as he looks to move away from “gimmicks” and micromanagement.

Philip Hammond entering Downing Street
PA Images

According to the Financial Times, the Chancellor wants to focus the Treasury’s tax and spending decisions on the spring Budget.

Under Mr Hammond’s proposals in future years the Autumn Statement could return to its original function of fiscal forecasting. But this year’s event on 23 November will go ahead as planned.

It will mark Mr Hammond’s first major set piece event since taking over from George Osborne at the Treasury.

Mr Osborne said in opposition he would end the Treasury’s “micromanagement and empire building” and reportedly planned to scale back the Autumn Statement.

That approach "lasted for one fiscal event,” a Treasury official told the FT.

Former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling said he too hoped to scale back the Autumn Statement but was thwarted by the need to address the economic turmoil stemming from the financial crisis.

“Events kept on getting in the way,” he told the FT. “I delivered three Budgets as chancellor but in fact they were really six.”

“Philip Hammond might want to move to a situation where he has just one Budget, but I suspect that with the uncertainty around Brexit, that may turn out to be impossible.”

The Treasury has produced “two fiscal events” since the 1975 Industry Act required the Government to publish at least two economic forecasts a year.

The deputy director of the Institute for Government, Julian McCrae, welcomed the idea of axing the Autumn Statement.

 “If you create fiscal events, they generate their own momentum and so get filled with guff,” he said.

“Changing the pension system so that the chancellor can pull a rabbit out of his hat, for example, is never the right way to go about pension reform.”