The Autumn Statement is a progress report from the Chancellor of the Exchequer telling the nation how the economy is performing.
The statement has become an important part of the government’s economic strategy after coming through several incarnations under different Chancellors.
In the 1990s, Tory Ken Clarke had a Summer Statement, while Gordon Brown favoured a pre-Budget report.
The original Autumn Statement instated in the Victorian era was more of a state of the nation report to update Parliament on how economic policy was progressing. The Chancellor reserved the spring Budget for tax and policy changes.
More recently, the Autumn Statement has morphed into a mid-term opportunity to tweak tax and economic policy.
Hammond and Osborne vie for Treasury jobs
Successive Chancellors have also announced future tax changes planned for 18 months or so down the line to soften the blow for voters.
Expect a flurry of tax and economic suggestions in the week or two running up to the statement, which is scheduled for 12.30pm on Wednesday, November 23, 2016, following Prime Minister’s Question Time or PMQs.
This will be the first statement by Chancellor Phillip Hammond after Prime Minister Theresa May sacked the incumbent George Osborne. Osborne took up his role in May 2010.
It’s not the first time Osborne lost his job in favour of Hammond.
In May 2005, he handed his desk as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury to him as well.
What will Hammond say?
No one knows what Hammond will say. Lobbyists will be asking for more spending on building homes and social services in a bid to ease the housing crisis and to lift the stress of years of austerity cuts on welfare budgets.
Osborne was in favour of lowering corporation tax to entice businesses to the UK from the European Union, but Hammond seems against that.
The problem is Hammond has yet to make any major public announcements, so this is the first chance to gauge how Britain will move ahead under May and her new government. However, their options are limited by how Britain will approach Brexit negotiations with the EU from next year.
He won’t want to rock the boat too much as the economy is in a reasonable state but Hammond will want to keep his powder dry to respond to the impact of Brexit talks.