George Osborne with his Bullingdon club friends - we are all in this together!
I am an optimist! Thus, in times of gloom I would like to take a few minuets to explore what, if anything, positive might be milked out of Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) yesterday.
Firstly, in the words of the great master Yoda, the future is indeed cloudy, hard to tell what it holds. Although I strongly suspect this won’t happen; just imagine that this economic plan worked! Just imagine if it defied the FT, Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stieglitz and the greatest economist of our age John Maynard Keynes and actually bought this country out of “the danger zone”. Our structural deficit will be eliminated within 5 years, and the theory goes, we could then re-focus our expenditure on things that we thought mattered (like schools and hospitals). This is of course all based on the big IF Osborne is smarter than Stieglitz, the FT and Keynes!
So what about the short-term? Is there any one in society that will benefit, or avoid feeling the pinch, of these wide-spread cuts? Well, if you habitually like going to Museums your in luck! We can still go into State owned museums for free. A priority? Churchill thought so.
If you are currently at school then your schools funding is protected…assuming you live in England. In fact, momentarily trying to be fair, the schools budget will actually rise in real terms! This combined with the Pupil Premium, might go someway to reducing inequalities in our schools (assuming a child never leaves schools gates and has to experience the real world). Equally, this assumes you are under 16, as the EMA has been destroyed leaving thousands of poorer students unable to fund their FE.
If you require social care, there is a possibility that you might benefit from an extra 2 billion put aside; also it is worth noting that the NHS has been ring fenced. Hurrah.
Now for the real winner, the International Aid budget is expected to grow to 11.6bn (from 7.7) over four years to meet UN aid commitments. Could this be the one truly commendable aspects of the spending review?
This blog has been painful to write. It is clear that there are some good points of this spending review (like the core point of tackling our structural deficit), but to have the audacity to claim it was a progressive piece of policy is laughable. The Institute of Fiscal Studies took literally seconds to point out it was regressive as it will have the greatest effect on those on the lower end of income.
Thus, this leaves us, caring normal individuals, with no choice but to become part of the big society. If the State won’t have the capacity to look after people then I guess we have to. Either that or we can sit back and pretend people’s lives are not falling to pieces behind closed doors. Which do you think will happen?