Philip Hammond told to perform "urgent" spending review

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is seen outside Downing Street ahead of a Brexit vote in London

The chancellor used the spring statement on Wednesday to say he had accumulated as much as £26.6bn of additional spending power from stronger tax receipts - on the forecasts of the government's independent economics forecaster, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) - which could be used to boost public services if Brexit passed smoothly.

On Tuesday, parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed Brexit plan for a second time, little more than two weeks before the scheduled date of departure from the EU.

Yet, while he said the forthcoming Spending Review, supposedly spanning three years, will encompass policing as well as social care, education and local government, there was a clear caveat.

Responding to the Spring Statement, chairman of the LGA Lord Porter said: "The government's plan to publish the Spending Review alongside the Autumn Budget this year could exacerbate the funding challenges facing councils and will severely hamper their ability to plan ahead for next year and beyond".

"Leaving with no deal would mean significant disruption in the short and medium term and a smaller, less prosperous economy in the long term, than if we leave with a deal", he said.

"That is not what the British people voted for in June 2016", he said.

Hammond revealed in his Spring Statement that the forecast for the country's growth in 2019 was 1.2 percent, the weakest since 2009, a sharp drop from the 1.6 percent predicted in the his budget last October.

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"This is up from £15.4 billion in October, as the fiscal costs of the temporary near-term cyclical weakness of the economy have been swamped by the fiscal gains from higher income tax and lower debt interest spending".

The Chancellor said there was "good news" on the public finances, with borrowing forecast to reach £13.5bn in 2023/24, its lowest level in 22 years.

Philip Hammond vowed to free up more money to help end austerity in a "deal dividend".

"NI Chamber is fully supportive of the Derry/Londonderry City Deal and we hope this gets over the line soon".

He warned that Britain leaving the European Union without a deal would deliver a significant short-to-medium term hit to the productive capacity of the British economy while a Brexit deal could unlock more spending.

"This is extremely concerning, especially for Northern Ireland, which already has productivity levels amongst the worst in Europe and the lowest across the United Kingdom regions".

But Sean Lavery, partner at business advisory firm BDO NI, said that a commitment by the Chancellor to tackle late and poor payment practices would be "commended by many in NI and beyond".

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