THE “latte levy” on throwaway plastic cups will move a step closer today as Philip Hammond uses his Spring Statement to launch a public consultation on single-use plastic waste.

The Chancellor has made clear that when he stands up before MPs this lunchtime there will be “no fiscal announcements” despite calls from opposition parties for him to use the set-piece occasion in the Commons to “end austerity” given the healthier economic numbers.

Treasury sources made clear the department was regarding Mr Hammond’s Commons statement as a low-key affair. “It’ll last about 15 to 20 minutes, just like a normal Commons statement. We’re not expecting any tax announcements or changes to public spending,” said a Treasury insider.

Last year, the Chancellor changed the fiscal focus to an Autumn Budget.

Today’s statement to MPs will essentially be a stock-take of where the UK economy is with figures from the Government’s economic forecaster, the Office for Budget Responsibility, setting out numbers on growth, borrowing and debt.

The upturn in the global economy has helped buoy up the UK’s despite the turbulence of Brexit.

The OBR had predicted growth in 2017 at 1.5 per cent but it turned out at 1.7 per cent. This is likely to mean an upgrade in growth for this year, which in November the independent forecaster predicted would be 1.4 per cent.

In November, it also predicted borrowing for 2017/18 would be just shy of £50bn but the expectation is that it will be nearer £43bn, just over two per cent of national income; in 2009/10, it was 10 per cent.

Interestingly, the OBR will is expected to give an estimate of the effect on public finances in the years ahead of the £39bn Brexit divorce bill.

As well as a public consultation on single-use plastic waste, Mr Hammond might also seek advice from businesses on Value Added Tax, which, it is claimed, is holding back the growth of small firms.

A major development would be switching the tax on company profits to revenues for the likes of the Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, which have come in for criticism for posting low tax returns given their multi-billion incomes.

Mr Hammond will today urged the public to have its say on reducing the “scourge” of damaging single-use plastics.

Ahead of his speech, he said: “From crisp packets to coffee cups, each year the UK produces millions of tonnes of waste, which is neither recycle-able nor biodegradable.

“That’s why I want British businesses and universities to lead the world in creating innovative solutions to tackling this global problem.

“We are determined to create an environment that is fit for future generations. By working with industry, innovators and the public I am confident we can bring about real change,” added the Chancellor.

Despite increased awareness and an 80 per cent reduction in plastic bag use since 2015, the UK still creates 2.26m tonnes of plastic packaging waste a year and only recycles around a third of this.

According to the United Nations, plastics marine waste costs the planet over £6bn every year. It also costs European fisheries £62m annually. And in the UK alone, the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year would fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls.

But Labour’s John McDonnell urged Mr Hammond to use his speech “to act and end austerity,” adding: “Our country cannot afford for him to continue to ignore the problems facing working households in our country.”

Kirsty Blackman for the SNP claimed the UK Government was “asleep at the wheel while Brexit has already started to hit the economy” and called on the Chancellor to “address the threats facing the economy, businesses and frontline services”.

The Liberal Democrats’ Stephen Lloyd said Mr Hammond should use the Statement to end the “great injustice of the benefits system” by halting the practice of Work Capability Assessments being carried out by private companies.