By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
The U.K. will set aside an extra £3 billion ($4 billion) for Brexit contingency planning, British finance minister Philip Hammond announced on Wednesday.
Hammond was making an autumn budget announcement and set out Treasury plans on how the government will allocate resources during one of the most turbulent times in the country’s history.
Downgrading the growth forecast for 2017 from 2 percent to 1.5 percent, Hammond claimed it will rise again to 1.6 percent in 2021-22.
The Chancellor said debt will peak at 86.5 percent of GDP in 2017 but will occur at 79.1 percent in 2022-23 following a gradual drop.
The country’s health service, the NHS, will receive an extra £2.8 billion from government funds, he said. The lack of adequate funding for NHS has been a subject of criticism from opposition parties and formed a major pledge by pro-Leave campaigners in the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Hammond told lawmakers the government has a long-term plan to build 300,000 new homes by the mid 2020s; stamp duty for first-time buyers will be abolished for purchases up to £300,000.
However, in an initial reaction, main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was critical of a lack of extra spending on social care and education.
Corbyn claimed the Conservative government had borrowed policies from Labour and "as socialists, we are happy to share".