The Autumn Statement was very different presentation from the Chancellor’s last set-piece, the Budget of last March. On this occasion he was able to say that his previous forecasts had been too pessimistic: instead of borrowing more than expected in the future, the government would be borrowing less. The Chancellor could even see a surplus on the distant horizon of 2018/19, albeit only a small one.
However, politics and the uncertainty of forecasts meant that there were no giveaways from Mr Osborne. Instead he produced a ‘fiscally neutral’ set of measures, many already announced or briefed, but some unexpected: