Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The First Conservative Budget for more than a decade

I'm still "running the numbers", but at the moment it seems like it's the first time I've ever known a Conservative budget that wasn't completely ideology-driven, and actually did more than a dismissive hand-wave at those on lower incomes.

Harriet Harman's points (Merseyside worst hit, wealthy Cheshire least; substantial job losses to come) were well made, though.

Where I felt it was weak was in support of small businesses -- well, I would, wouldn't I?

In the current economic position, Big Business is more part of the problem than the solution. It acts as a brake on economic development. Equally, since the Tories are looking towards big Civil Service job cuts, there's going to be a fallback in tax receipts and an increase in unemployment. What will boost us out of the doldrums will be small business growth -- the only economic sector that can show genuine growth despite overall recession or stagnation ... provided that that growth isn't stifled by onerous taxation or bureaucracy. I didn't see much in the Budget speech that made a difference there, one way or the other. I'd hoped for more but, given the pre-Election manifesti of the Tories and LDs, I wasn't holding my breath.

Still, not as bad as I'd feared, nor as skewed to topping-up already full pockets. The full public services cutback plans will be the pivot around which the economic recovery will move. It remains to be seen in which direction it turns.

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