UK to swerve recession this year as Jeremy Hunt unveils budget

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LONDON — The U.K. will duck a recession this year, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said as he delivered the U.K. budget Wednesday.

Introducing the “budget for growth” — the first full-fat fiscal event under prime minister Rishi Sunak — in the House of Commons, Hunt said the U.K. economy had “proved the doubters wrong.”

“Today, the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that because of changing international factors and the measures I take, the U.K. will not now enter a technical recession this year,” Hunt told the Commons, citing figures from the U.K.’s independent fiscal watchdog.

The OBR predicted in November that the U.K. economy would enter a recession in 2022, and contract by 1.4 percent in 2023.

“But today the OBR forecast we will not enter a recession at all this year with a contraction of just 0.2 percent,” Hunt said.

The OBR is also predicting that inflation will fall from 10.7 percent in the final quarter of last year to 2.9 percent by the end of 2023, “more than halving” inflation— a key political goal of Sunak’s government.

The chancellor vowed to deliver “prosperity with a purpose,” with his budget. He confirmed the extension of some current support for mounting energy bills support.

According to a report in the Guardian Hunt is also expected to announce an increase in free childcare for working families.

However, there is unlikely to be any major movement on cutting taxes — a move which will anger some Tory MPs holding out for tax cuts to boost the party’s ailing position in the polls.

This developing story is being updated.