The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, did not need to dust off his distinguishable red briefcase last week; as this was the inaugural Spring Statement, the briefcase will not make an appearance until the Autumn Budget. In his speech, the Chancellor revised up the UK’s growth forecast figures for this year from the previous figure of 1.4% to 1.5%, whilst inflation was forecast to fall to the target of 2% by the end of the year.

It was revealed that in revising Stamp Duty for first time buyers in November last year, 60,000 people have benefitted from the new tax arrangement. However, whilst this has helped those get a foot onto the property ladder, forecasts indicate that over the next year the UK Government will miss out on £1 billion in tax from first time buyers.

With the aim of keeping the environment clean and reducing degradation further, Mr Hammond also announced a consultation on the taxation of single use plastics, such as coffee cups and water bottles.

Meanwhile, in the US, Donald Trump sacked his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, due to continued disagreements but it followed his comments about Russia’s possible involvement in the poisoning of a spy and his daughter here in the UK. Mike Pompeo has been named as Tillerson’s replacement in Trump’s cabinet. Tillerson’s sacking makes him the twentieth person to have been sacked or resigned from the White House since Trump took office.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin won another election victory for his fourth term, garnering over 70% of the vote; but this is not without controversy. There have been accusations of irregularities in the vote, with people unable to enter polling stations and the presence of voting papers in ballot boxes before polls opened.

Looking to the week ahead, the Federal Open Market Committee will be meeting to discuss the current US interest rate. Whilst it is not expected to change, the UK’s Monetary Policy Committee will also be meeting this week to discuss the Bank of England base rate. However, interest rates are on the agenda on both sides of the Atlantic.