BRITAIN is at a “turning point,” Philip Hammond has insisted, as he dropped a large hint that there could be a major public spending boost in the autumn.

Bouyed by upgraded projections for growth and predicted falling inflation, debt and borrowing, the Chancellor rejected Labour "doom and gloom" over the state of the economy and told MPs there was "light at the end of the tunnel" following years of austerity.

In his first Commons Spring Statement – a low-key affair lasting barely 25 minutes - Mr Hammond resisted pressure for an immediate boost to public service funds from Labour and the SNP.

Smiling, he told MPs he had shed his Eeyore image and was feeling "Tiggerish" after the Office for Budget Responsibility, the UK Government’s independent forecaster, edged up growth projections for 2018 and predicted falls in borrowing and national debt over the coming years.

"If, in the autumn, the public finances continue to reflect the improvements that today's report hints at, then...I would have capacity to enable further increases in public spending and investment in the years ahead, while continuing to drive value for money to ensure that not a single penny of precious taxpayers' money is wasted,” the Chancellor said to Tory roars of approval.

But Labour’s John McDonnell berated Mr Hammond for his “astounding complacency”.

The Shadow Chancellor said: "We face in every public service a crisis on a scale we've never seen before. Hasn't he listened to the doctors, the nurses, the teachers, the police officers, the carers and even his own councillors?

"They're telling him they can't wait for the next Budget. They're telling him to act now. For eight years they've been ignored by this Government and today they've been ignored again.”

Mr McDonnell added: "The Chancellor has proclaimed today that there's light at the end of the tunnel; this shows how cut off from the real world he is."

Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, dismissed the Spring Statement as “much ado about nothing,” saying: “The real tragedy is that we are 10 years on from the financial crisis but austerity is still with us and there was a lack of hope given to the people of the United Kingdom from the statement today.”

The Highland MP was met by Scottish Tory protests when he insisted the UK Government was forcing a “devastating cut to Scotland’s budget”.

Mr Blackford noted how the SNP Government had used its Budget to defend public services, “mitigating the worst atrocities of this Government’s ideological austerity agenda”.

He added: “The Chancellor must wake up to the economic injustices he has overseen and he must tell this House as a matter of urgency how the economy will stand a hard Brexit.”

Mr Hammond responded by suggesting a matter of more immediacy for the people of Scotland was about “how their economy will withstand the highest rates of taxation in the United Kingdom; an economy that, under the SNP Government, is already growing more slowly than the economy of the United Kingdom”.

He also suggested Mr Blackford was suffering from short-term amnesia as he pointed out “at the autumn Budget in 2017 - just four months ago - Scotland received an additional £2 billion of funding as a result of the measures announced then”.

Alistair Carmichael for the Liberal Democrats pointed out how the OECD international watchdog had published growth forecasts, which put Britain at the bottom of G20 growth league with forecast growth this year of just 1.3 per cent.

“It is pretty clear there is no Brexit dividend on the scene for the British economy. It is to be welcomed that the deficit is getting back to a manageable level but he must know - even his own backbenchers are telling him - extra money is needed now for our hospitals, our schools and our police,” added the Orkney and Shetland MP.