Many are beginning to feel that on 20 March we may see chancellor George Osborne reveal a budget devoid of new policies. The Spectator's editor Fraser Nelson:
‘If we didn’t need to produce a Budget this year, we wouldn’t,’ says an aide. So there will be the usual whale spray of policies: a fuel duty cut here, help for the low-paid there.
The UK is experiencing next to no growth while government accounts worsen. So far only a change in the Bank of England's remit, potentially including a change to the inflation target, has been hinted at (which would break the Conservative 2010 Manifesto pledge to continue targeting two per cent inflation). A much more substantial approach is necessary to stimulate the private sector. Osborne has done his job poorly thus far, and has precious little time to return growth to the UK.
City A.M.'s editor Allister Heath has done the chancellor's work for him, writing a list of ten steps that could be taken to revitalise the UK (Telegraph). Among these are bold tax and current spending cuts, loosening of capital requirements, and liberalising transport, energy, housing and education. A market-orientated approach to the economy would unleash waves of entrepreneurs that could compete to bring us a stronger economy and better living standards.
Free market think tank, the Adam Smith Institute, also has some recommendations for the chancellor. Its director Eamonn Butler:
Why not take small firms out of employment regulation completely: make them more confident to hire and expand.
We should focus on what the state really needs to do and cut out whole programmes and departments (like Vince Cable's Business Department) that nobody would miss.
There are ideas out there, and Osborne should grasp a handful of them for 20 March. Refusing to be radical will guarantee a continuation of a journey through a swamp of low growth and high debt. As for Cameron referring to 'the plan', it's not all that clear what is left of it. Reducing spending hasn't gone all that well:
Feel sure I've heard someone mention "spending cuts". When did they happen, then? twitter.com/AndrewLilico/s…— Andrew Lilico (@AndrewLilico) March 7, 2013