March 8, 2017 / 2:15 PM / 5 months ago

Hammond not on track to meet balanced budget goal - OBR

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond stands outside 11 Downing Street before delivering his budget to the House of Commons in London, March 8, 2017.Stefan Wermuth

LONDON (Reuters) - Chancellor Philip Hammond has not set out ambitious enough plans to be likely to meet his goal of eliminating the country's budget deficit by the early 2020s, the government's budget watchdog said on Wednesday.

After June's vote to leave the European Union, Hammond pulled back from his predecessor George Osborne's aim to run a budget surplus before the end of the decade, but did commit to doing so as soon as possible after 2020.

But on Wednesday the Office for Budget Responsibility said forecasts in Hammond's budget showed too small of a decline in the deficits pencilled in for 2020/21 and 2021/22, at a time when an ageing population would push up healthcare costs.

"The Government does not appear to be on track to meet its stated fiscal objective," the OBR said.

Reporting by David Milliken, editing by Andy Bruce

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