PBR’s big decision is right, but not all joy in the detail
Today the Chancellor had to maximise the chances of recovery, help the unemployed and make sure that when the time is right to close the deficit those who did most to cause the crash and did best from the boom make their proper contribution through a fair tax system.
On the biggest decision he is right. The Chancellor has ruled out big cuts in the near future. To have cut spending so soon after a serious recession would be gross economic irresponsibility. Instead he has concentrated on helping the unemployed and a welcome boost to investment in the green technologies of the future. This is not just good for jobs, but helps rebalance the economy away from our over-reliance on finance.
But a centralised pay cap on public sector staff is unfair, inefficient and will damage long-established independent review systems – which already take affordability into account. Public sector workers – many of whom are low paid – should not have to pay the price for a crash they did nothing to cause. And we will need to study the small print to look at where the cuts he has announced will hit.
There is good news on tax. The tax on bonuses not only raises a useful amount that will help the young unemployed, but it – and other measures – begins to ask those who did so well out of the boom years and whose recklessness caused the crash to make a proper contribution, particularly through getting tough on avoidance.
But today he could have been much bolder in moving to a fundamental reform of tax where the super-rich were asked to pay. The National Insurance increase will hit ordinary workers and business, though of course we welcome the exemption for those earning £20,000 or below, which is nearly half the workforce.