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

    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 .


Comments 5 of 263


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