A £2bn public finances surplus has fallen to Philip Hammond so he could yet boost the NHS
Philip Hammond just got lucky. What was shaping up to be an extremely tricky budget for the chancellor all of a sudden looks quite a lot easier. July is normally a good month for the public finances because it is a time when tax receipts come rolling in to the exchequer, but the size of the surplus – £2bn – has been a pleasant surprise.
Not since Gordon Brown was in his frugal phase at the Treasury during Tony Blair’s first Labour administration 18 years ago has there been a July as good.
With only four months of this financial year gone it is a bit early to predict what the situation will be for 2018-19, but should the pattern since April be replicated Hammond will be on course to undershoot his forecast for a £37bn deficit by £13bn.