Strong on ambition, short on detail: Chancellor spells out his vision for a prosperous future

In a speech on Friday morning, the chancellor said the 'best tax cut right now is a cut in inflation' as he outlined how he plans to use Brexit and investment outside of London to drive UK economic growth. ITV News Business and Economics Editor Joel Hills reports.

This was an important speech in the sense that persistently low economic growth is a serious problem. Governments that cannot raise the living standards of their citizens run into difficulties. This morning the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, delivered a stirring vision of a more prosperous future. He plans to revive our prospects by encouraging companies to invest in the UK and create jobs, by improving the skills of young people leaving school, and by encouraging some of the five million adults who choose not to work to rejoin the workforce.

Most economists will tell you these are exactly the levers he should be pulling. The data shows that over the sweep of the last fourteen years or so, many counties have struggled with low growth and that the UK has been towards the back of the pack. Over the same period, the typical household in Britain has seen their living standards fall relative to households in France or Germany. But this morning, the chancellor set out his case against what he called “declinism” and rejected the idea that the UK is a straggler.

'I don't accept that we are towards the back of the pack,' the chancellor said

“I don’t accept that we are towards the back of the pack compared to what other countries are saying. I think any accurate examination of the statistics says we have been affected in broadly the same way as our peer countries. The difference is our long-term opportunity”. Jeremy Hunt believes the future is bright - and it could be. He was speaking to a room of executives and economists, the verdict of those I spoke to afterwards was that his speech was strong on ambition but lacked in detail. Improving education is a terrific idea but how will this be achieved? As it stands, teachers planning strike action and schools struggling attract and retain staff. Higher business investment is vital but the fact is it has flat-lined in the UK ever since the referendum on the EU in 2016. The chancellor says he tell us more about how deliver vision in his Budget in March.

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