End of term report: How has the coalition actually done?

How has Osborne actually done? (Source: Getty)

We're on the edge of what has been repeatedly referred to as the most unpredictable election in living memory. The Conservative Party has put its ability to manage the economy at the heart of its election campaign, while the Lib Dems have positioned themselves as the party to "cut less than the Tories and borrow less than Labour". But how have they performed over their last five years in government? Here's our end of term report.

Economic growth: B

Gross domestic product is the most commonly used indicator of how a country's economy is performing. It measures the final value of all the goods and services produced within a country's borders. When the coalition came to power in May 2010 it was presiding over an economy which had recently emerged from a recession. Fast forward to today and the UK's economy grew 2.6% in 2014, its fastest pace of growth since 2007.

Jobs: A

This government has put in a pretty impressive performance when it comes to its ability to deliver jobs. Employment recently hit a record high of 73.4 per cent since comparable records began 44 years ago. And the unemployment rate has been reduced from 7.9 per cent when the coalition took over in May 2010, to 5.6 per cent today. At the same time, the coalition has come under fire for the number of people who are self-employed, as well as those on zero-hours contracts.

Living standards: B-

One of the biggest criticisms of the recovery levelled towards the coalition was that people weren't benefiting from it. However, towards the end of last year, wage growth started to outpace inflation for the first time since 2010, meaning living standards were finally rising. Despite this, a number of economists have been left wanting more, saying it comes at time of low inflation, and can't continue without a corresponding pick up in productivity.

The deficit: C

The coalition initially pledged to reduce the gap between what it spends and what it earns through taxes and receipts, cutting how much it needs to borrow to plug the gap between the two. The Tories have since claimed to have halved the deficit, which is correct if we view debt as a percentage of GDP (as most economists do). Nevertheless it's worth noting the Conservatives had initially pledged to eliminate the structural deficit - the gap between income and expenditure - by the end of the parliament.

The great rebalancing: A-

George Osborne had previously vowed to rebalance Britain's economy away from imports and towards exports. In fact, he even went as far as promising to double the UK exports of goods and services to £1 trillion by 2020. But as the chart above shows, imports continue to outpace exports. Osborne also called for a revival of manufacturing, boosting exports, and steering the economy away from consumption. Despite this, the manufacturing sector continues to contribute far less to the economy than the dominant services sector.

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