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

 
Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 163.

    Two questions.
    1) Is this a fair budget that shows we are all in fact in it together and sharing the burden of austerity together?
    2) Is everyone who works hard being rewarded as part of making work pay?
    I feel the answers to both of these are no.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 162.

    Odd how Cypriot banking crisis gets coverage , whilst the man who took us to within 15 minutes of a similar catastrophe is quoted as a BBC headline .
    clearly the BBC think pasty tax a bigger mistake than banking crisis .

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 161.

    Almost every single one of the targets Osbourne set himself he has failed to achieve. His answer? I't's not my fault Gov, it's the ones that were here before.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 160.

    Wonderful! Cut NI payments , then say there is not enough money to pay pensions. Stand up for the right to buy. the right to buy WHAT? Then complain there is not enough social housing. Me thinks this is a budget for election. True blue Typical Con.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 159.

    2010, Tories virtually attributed beginning of UK recovery from crisis to Gordon Brown not as economic expert but as believable liar. Wrong lessons were taken by Tories and many voters in 2010, fatal half-belief turning into Coalition conviction and asymmetric austerity ruin. What Labour might have 'got away with', the Tories - holing confidence below the water, home and abroad - had no real hope

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 158.

    "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"


    Says it all really - like the Captain of the Titanic he sees no iceberg......

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 157.

    The new teacher from 1997, fooled by 'friends in the City', came back today a wiser man. Ed Balls, asked on R-4 Today why the OBR had needed to downgrade own forecasts & why the lag in Labour polling, gently understating, told that 'too many have wanted to believe the Coalition plan could succeed'. The Coalition continues to ignore the fundamentals of work & confidence, trapped in its own rhetoric

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 156.

    Ed Balls call for a U-turn is pointless since he knows this would never happen. Destructive politics in opposition is Brainless. Come on Ed show the voter you have something between your ears.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 155.

    Propping up and maybe even inflating the housing bubble (yet more tax-payer funded support for the banking sector...) is very irresponsible.

    If those gambling addicts which are mortgage lenders don't think that somebody should be given a 95% mortgage then they really shouldn't. All the announced schemes do is shift the risk to tax-payers - aren't we exposed enough already?!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 154.

    I don't care for George Osborne, or his policies. I don't think cutting our way out of trouble will work, not on its own anyhow. I don't care for Ed Balls either, in fact he is worse. Blair, Brown, Balls, the three of them did much damage to our country, If Milliband had any sense he would drop Balls, because to people like me he is frankly un-electable with him in his team.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 153.

    A penny off a pint will make b-all difference to individual drinkers while significantly reducing state revenues. A totally idiotic crowd-pleasing measure. Hopefully the crowd won't be idiotic enough to be pleased.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 152.

    George Osborne said he would become the most unpopular Chancellor,because of the measures he would have to take to put our country in a better financial state. He is also playing a longer game. Short and quick popular fixes are not what our country needs. Ignore the whiners and keep going. A quick rush for growth is not the way forward. Saddened that Labour have no policies except increasing debt.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 151.

    Good old BBC .
    Day after a very important budget and they are running with an ed balls quote as the headline .vclearly they cannot find anything specifically bad to run with , so some general scaremongering from herr balls will have to do .

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 150.

    Polygott, Nick Robinson is a Tory so no surprise by your ringing endorsement. He was head of the Conservatives at the same University as Cameron, and has been able to present and comment with a Tory bias, throughout his career at the BBC. I am not a Labour supporter ,either. Just a reader/viewer who enjoys politics and impartial journalism, which is sadly lacking from Nick Robinson.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 149.

    Nick Robinson is the best political commentator I ever heard. I am a foreigner but I support the tories because I was always conservative ,though before listening to the Prime Minister or to Boris Johnson , I do listen to the opinion of Nick Robinson .

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 148.

    In total agreement with @147.
    Future pensioners have only to contribute 30 years N.I. to qualify.
    So all those who paid for 44 years are being short changed, and should receive a rebate of 14 years payments, with interest!
    Also remember that if you die the day before your 60th or 65th birthday, as quite a few have, (check the headstones) all those contributions are lost to the exchequer.
    GB R.I.P.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 147.

    This budget does nothing for existing pensioners but only makes them second class citizens by creating a two tier system which will make me £45 per week worse off than a pensioner retiring in 2016. How can that be fair unless you make the flat rate available to all. It is also more discriminatory towards women pensioners who will be on less entitlement because of lost years at home childcaring.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 146.

    Theoretically, couldn't the Goverment just lie and say where doing much better than we are and thus give some confidence to the average joe to spend which would then have a knock on effect on the economy. The Goverments lied about worse. I sometimes think this recession is a self fulfilling prophecy.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 145.

    A 'Russell's Paradox' Budget.

    Buffoon or genius, Mr Osborne has delivered an apparently unassuming budget with one very worrying difference, Fracking.

    He has he just sat down with Beelzebub on this one.

    So, if naivety does exist in this Fracking proposal then Russell’s Paradox is apt, if not please refer to the owner of the most criminal paradox and cite that name in your reference to George

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 144.

    What do you expect? Lets not forget that the man in charge of the UK finances has only a BA in History! Whilst the man leading the government has a BA in Politics, be that however at least a 1st. These two are so unqualified it is terrifying.

    You get the government you deserve!

 

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