Hammond plans to spend billions on road, rail and infrastructure

"This would be very unwelcome in the business and farming communities and we certainly hope that this rumour remains in the long grass".

Chancellor Philip Hammond has said he aims to make the economy "match fit for the opportunities and challenges ahead" as the United Kingdom approaches Brexit.

Mr Hammond has indicated there will be no substantial giveaways in Wednesday's mini-Budget, stressing the economy is facing a "sharp challenge" and calling for "headroom" to deal with a black hole in the public finances reportedly as high as £100 billion.

He said ensuring job security for those people was "a key priority", but pressed on whether he would reverse cuts to Universal Credit, he said many forecasts were "pointing to a slowing of economic growth next year and a sharp challenge for the public finances".

"Over the next couple of years we are going to face some uncertainty over the economy", Hammond said.

That has led to economic jitters, as well as speculation and lobbying by those who want to keep close ties with the bloc, as well as those who favor a decisive break.

The plans will include £1.3 billion of new investment in Britain's roads to tackle congestion.

The chancellor also rejected suggestions the government is struggling to find common ground on a Brexit strategy, saying he was "surprised by the degree to which the cabinet is coming together around a view of the opportunities and the challenges ahead".

Mr. Hammond warned last month that the British economy could face some turbulence as the country charts its exit from the European Union and has already abandoned his predecessor's target of achieving a budget surplus in the current parliament.

But Mr Hammond told Peston: "We don't think the best way to approach this is to assume there are fixed existing structures - the single market, the customs union, and all you have is a binary choice in relation to those".

"A lot of the infrastructure the government is supposed to be announcing are press releases we've had already", he said.

"We need to do it cautiously and appropriately", he told ITV (LON:) television in a separate interview.

The statement said Hammond's approach on the budget would be different to that of his predecessor George Osborne by limiting announcements to top-level spending decisions "rather than announcing full details of individual projects".

Mrs May is expected to use a speech to industry leaders at the CBI's annual conference on Monday to insist she is "unashamedly pro-business" and to announce fresh investment in science and research, according to reports.

Mr Hammond will also use the Autumn Statement to hint at a temporary reduction in Value-Added Tax from 20% to 17.5% to come in his Budget in March, the Sunday Mirror reported.

The Treasury has refused to comment on any speculation about the Autumn Statement.

The Sunday Telegraph said Hammond planned to balance the books by taxing job perks given to middle-income earners, such as mobile-phone contracts and gym memberships.

The government is set to inject more than £1bn into upgrading the country's road network as part of the chancellor's Autumn Statement.



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