[Re: The state is still growing – this isn’t the right kind of austerity, yesterday]
The coalition’s failure to make any real dent into the deficit is indicative of its failure to undertake any meaningful reform of the state and its functions. We’ve seen salami-slicing – costs squeezed down and some salaries cut. But we still expect the same services from the government. Outside the Department for Education, where is the bold thinking? Even Iain Duncan Smith’s much-vaunted welfare reforms don’t go far enough. He is reducing benefit growth, and chipping away at the edges of eligibility (by, for example, looking to prevent under 25s getting housing benefit). But too many people still expect an income from the state.
[Re: Dear chancellor: Five steps to inject some life into a flatlining economy, yesterday]
Mark Littlewood’s proposals have an elegant simplicity. But I wonder whether his suggestion that all policy be subject to a veto by the chancellor (if it fails a growth test) is already dead in the water. Many of the programmes the Treasury itself expects to encourage growth – Regional Growth Funds, infrastructure investments, HS2 – will cost more than they should do, even if they encourage some small amount of extra output. The problem, so often, is not that government spending harms growth. Rather that the same money could be better spent by the private sector.
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I’ve got this lingering thought about HS2. Wouldn’t better and free Wi-fi negate the need for speed for most commuters?
The pound falls below €1.17 for first time since December 2011. Not a good indicator of confidence in UK economy.
Four years of massive fiscal and monetary stimulus. No growth, chronic malinvestment. Time to look at underlying competitiveness?
The cost of HS2 is small when compared to other areas of spending (over 20 years). The supposed benefit is where we have problems.
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