A Budget of paradoxes

George Osborne

Off course, but determined to stick to it. Having no money to spend, but still able to deliver tax cuts for people and businesses. This was a Budget of paradoxes.

George Osborne was forced to read out a grim set of economic forecasts - the missing of his debt target, the halving of next year's growth forecast and borrowing up this year on one measure and only down on another thanks to an unprecedented and surely unrepeatable underspend by Whitehall departments (£7bn more than last year).

However, none of this convinced him to take the advice of those urging him to borrow more in an effort to stimulate growth by cutting taxes or investing in construction.

Nevertheless, the chancellor did find money from squeezing day-to-day spending to pay for important personal and business tax cuts and a multi-billion pound attempt to boost the construction industry.

This was a very political speech from a man in a very tight economic straitjacket: demonstrating a Brown-like determination to keep control of the economic statistics even though they are now drawn up by independent forecasters; echoing Thatcherite rhetoric on home ownership ("Help to Buy" follows "Right to Buy"); boasting that he would be delivering his tax-cutting objectives (20% Corporation Tax rate and £10k personal tax allowance); claiming to have taken out of tax all those who would pay the 10p tax band Labour have talked about restoring; promising a tighter spending round than expected and inviting Labour to tell the electorate which tax rises they'd like instead.

It will, though, not be judged by the headlines or by the measures or even by the Budget leak* but by whether the next time he stands up the economic news appears to be any better or worse - yet again.

* In reality not so much a leak as a breach by the London Evening Standard of an embargoed pre-Budget briefing

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  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    The 'master strategist' may be just that.Long-term the Buller boy knows that the Tories (yet again) haven't a cat in hell's chance of winning the next Election.What to do George? Continue to destroy any chance of economic recovery;benefit your millionaire class meantime and let Labour pick up the pieces in 2015 with the hope that their recovery measures will ensure Tory victory in 2020.How sad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    Once again extreme negativity from the BBC Journo's, once again pandering to the fears of the Labour party that this housing give away to young people may be a vote winner. What a shame that the Labour Luvvies will not get back in again. Can you not see (for a change) what is happening across the English Channel. You are hopeless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    1p off beer says it all, i laughed when he turned to the tory mp who fought to help the pub's, in my area some of the people could not afford to buy a pint for 1p, they dont live in the real world, vince cable does, i am not a lib dem give him the job pronto.

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    Under Labour public spending in real terms increased 53% 1997 to 2010.

    The coalitions 'austerity' reforms amount to a real terms cut 2010 to 2017 of just 2.3%

    We can't afford our public spending but there is no political courage to say so.

    we will collapse financially as a country on the back of selfish socialislm. The true politicis of the greedy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    255 I don't believe it

    By all means use a fine tooth comb , but the BBC does not report any of the benefits That are found , only the negatives .
    There is a diference between being thorough and being biased .

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    An impassioned plea but it falls short. Beer contains alcohol I'm afraid and that according to the government causes crime, expense, and sometimes carnage some of which sadly is caused by pub drinkers. Now of course most imbibers of alcohol don't do any of this and supermarkets overheads are nothing like a pubs and should be cheaper. You may choose to pay a premium,some have no choice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    Far be it from me to defend Osborne but if anyone is edging towards believing 1p off Beer Duty and failing to introduce the minimum pricing is self-contradictory then please don't.

    Minimum unit pricing would only affect supermarkets & 'nite-spots' selling alcohol irresponsibly cheap. The 1p of Duty & the srapping of the Escalator keeps pubs affordable.

    CAMRA supports both measures, as do I.

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    240 Moneydude

    With typical LTV requirements of 70% on many mortgages, if people don't have the savings or ability to borrow off relatives even if they are on reasonable salaries after paying rent etc. it is difficult to accrue that level of deposit - provided the lenders check people can afford the repayments this should help get things moving again without causing further problems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    After 2012 shambolic Budget did you (and George) really think people wouldn't go through this one with a fine-toothed comb? As I said earlier it is already unravelling. Paradoxes everywhere. Debt is bad so lets encourage people to go into more debt. Booze is bad so lets lower the price of beer. Subsidising low wages through benefits is bad but let's just hand out more employer subsidies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    AfA231 sums up what my reply would have been. The paradox of this government is not what NR proposes above. It is that to gain power they had to pretend to be different from Labour when in reality their alternative was always a self fulfilling and inflicted disaster. Their quack cure would and could only make the patient worse. Thank heavens they have at least unofficially called time out

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    Until labour admit their mistakes and cooperate to redeem the financial woes they created, they won't have an ounce of credibility

    I'm afraid the government have a poisoned chalice and nothing they do at present is deemed to be fair by labour or the BBC. But don't blame this government for trying (sometimes badly) to sort it out, blame the incompetence of those who created the problem

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.


    Can you ever criticise the Beeb without utterly misrepresenting what they do/say/report...???

    Yesterday the headlines were full of what the Govt. said in/about the budget, today is the turn of the response from the opposition.

    That is EXACTLY what unbias reporting is all about......

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    Gideon.....Balls......Alexander? it matters not who is at the helm all three parties are mired in vested interests with barely a fag paper between them.
    Small degrees of separation show a political class that are just not up to it, recycling the same dogma to attain the same status quo.
    Clear the decks!
    We are not protecting the banks survival we are proping up their continued largesse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    Currently main BBC headline is

    A labour soundbite

    main politics headline .

    Is a labour soundbite .

    What the hell do we pay you lot for . Write your own headlines instead of letting ed & ed.write the news .

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    No244 Jacko,
    The 'Great Depression' was caused by thieving bankers, and others in the world of 'financial services' - similar to what we have now.
    The world's leaders were brought together and agreed on a number of important economic issues, regarding trade and financial regulation.
    It led to the 'Golden Age of Capitalism'
    That is what Mr Balls is talking about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    No time for novices - Taxi for Flashman, Gideon & Clegg their hubris guaranteed their demise. This is almost exactly as predicted by Brown, Darling and er, Cable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    This time next year there'll be no one off bonuses to hide behind, such as the Olympics or the G4 sell off - then we'll really see what a pitiful state the economy has become under this Omnishambolic Coalition of the incompetent....

    ....mark my words - they'll be a Triple Dip recession before the next budget & the monthly deficit will be higher than ever.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    Yeah, great, try & reinflate the housing market bubble. How'd that go last time? Or the time before?
    Desparation politics from a desparate chancellor from the 'one-trick pony' school of economics.
    I have no faith that Balls will do anything but just that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.


    I agree with your assessment of Clegg/Alexander & co. but for different reasons - far from hampering the Tories they have colluded full bore with their turning of our economy into a train wreck through their joint brainless believe in Neo Liberal austerity which HAS NEVER helped a nation's debt but rather ALWAYS made it worse.....history shows this with absolute clarity.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    At least George Osborne is sticking to something. At this stage of a Labour government Ed Balls would be buying whatever votes he could, paying for them with more borrowing.
    At least if the present government are voted out, they will have stuck to as much of ehat they felt was right whilst being hampered by Clegg & his bunch of idiots...


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