If ‘a week is a long time in politics’, then nearly 18 months between Budgets must count as close to an eternity. And so it proves, if we consider the last Budget on 29 October 2018. Back then, Philip Hammond was the Chancellor, Theresa May was the Prime Minister, Brexit was due on 29 March 2019 and a General Election was not expected until May 2022. And Covid-19 had never been heard of. From a Treasury viewpoint, perhaps the most important element at the time was the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) forecast of a 2019/20 budget deficit of £31.8bn, up £6.3bn on the previous year.
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