UK Politics

Autumn Statement: A difficult day for George Osborne

  • 4 December 2012
  • From the section UK Politics
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Tomorrow's a day the chancellor isn't looking forward to. It's the day he'll be unveiling official forecasts showing borrowing and debt both going up. The day he'll announce deeper cuts and more tax rises.

So on the morning before the bad news to come the prime minister and his deputy went to school to unveil what they hoped would be viewed as some better news - an increase in investment spending paid for by deeper cuts to day to day departmental budgets.

The Cabinet only learnt the news this morning. Thus, there is, as yet, no detail of who and what will suffer the pain and who enjoy the gains.

This £5bn switch from current to capital spending is a repeat of what George Osborne did a year ago. So too is his expected announcement that the government is off course to meet its own targets.

When he became prime minister, David Cameron promised that "in five years' time, we will have balanced the books."

Tomorrow George Osborne will be forced to confirm that there is now no chance of that.

Today's announcement is not a plan B. It is an attempt to find more savings from the current budget to get closer to one of his targets and, at the same time, to increase infrastructure spending in the hope it boosts Britain's anaemic growth.