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How bad will the upcoming UK budget really be

By Dark Politricks

By the middle of the coming week we will know for certain whether the coalitions emergency budget was really as bad as everyone has been making out. Apparently the talk of the Westminister corridors is that the recent leaks about tax rises, cuts in benefits and the like have been ramped up in an apparent attempt to make the actual budget look tame in comparison.

If we are all expecting massive tax hikes and huge spending cuts then we will be comparatively happy with the actual outcome. Whether this is true or not I don’t know but another rumour from the corridors of power is a supposed comment from a minister that if we wake up on the day after the budget with good news headlines then they haven’t done their job properly.

We all know we are in a mess and both sides of the house are saying that massive cuts in spending are required to reduce the deficit however the actual hard choice is whether to make these cuts now or later once our recovery has gained some momentum.

It’s pretty clear to see that our recovery is weak at best and there is a pretty good chance that massive cuts in public spending without a rise in private investment to replace it will lead to a double dip recession. I am not an economist so cannot claim any great insight but it’s very clear to see that large swathes of our country are reliant on the public sector for jobs.

In Scotland one in three jobs is in the public sector and it’s a similar number in Wales. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if there are massive reductions in public sector jobs without an equally large rise in private sector jobs then we will be worse off in terms of unemployment benefit payments, social housing issues and all the other problems associated with large scale unemployment.

Now I know there are arguments that say that a strong public sector is actually the problem and that it’s precisely because the government has squeezed out private enterprise that there is such an imbalance but I don’t know if that is true.

When you think that most of the jobs in the public sector are related to hospitals, council staff, armed forces, policemen and the like I cannot see how the private sector would replace these types of jobs. We don’t have private policemen or armies or even a health service in the same way as the USA does. Reducing staff in any of those areas would mean those losing their jobs would most likely have to retrain to get employment in some other trade.

Sure we have too many quangos, over paid council executives and there have been far too many jobs created out of thin air for politically correct reasons but the types of jobs in the public sector we are talking about don’t have equivalents in the private sector so it’s not as if they have stolen or squeezed out private enterprise in any shape or form.

That is not to say we shouldn’t be doing everything we can to try to stimulate our economy and increase private enterprise just that I don’t necessarily see an easy trade off between public and private.  Unless there is a huge effort to increase the private sector especially in places like Wales and Scotland a massive reduction in public spending is more likely to do harm than good.

Therefore George Osborne has a balancing act to do next week and it will be interesting to see how it attempts to make savings at the same time stimulating the economy and driving up employment in areas outside his control.

There has been a great deal made out of last weeks decision to scrap pre election Labour spending plans especially the loan to Forgemasters in Sheffield. Whilst I agree that it’s correct that the government shouldn’t be dishing out loans to private companies it is also true that with the banking crisis there has been a massive failure in the system which has meant that normal lending isn’t possible.

Therefore it seems quite odd to be scrapping plans that will produce jobs especially in parts of the country that need them. The government should therefore use it’s massive stake in the banks we control to ensure that cheap loans to private companies are available especially in situations like Forgemasters who were relying on government backing.

If risk is an issue then what is more risky for the long term health of our country? A potential default on a private loan to a bank we control or the long term social and economic costs that come with mass unemployment. It should be a no brainer and we should be using our banks to ensure that the huge swathes of money they control are put to some good for once rather than used to make more money through gambling on the international markets.

It may seem counter intuitive at this time to be offering tax cuts but what better way to get money into peoples pockets and increase growth. A strong thriving economy will help pay off our national debt and bring money into the coffers a lot quicker than incremental tax increases in a stifled and weak economic environment.

Tax breaks and incentives should be offered to companies who invest in companies who offer jobs to local people. Even bigger tax breaks should be offered to companies prepared to up sticks and move to deprived parts of the country desperately in need of jobs. Tax breaks should be offered to companies who invest in manufacturing parts required by other industries within our country instead of importing them from overseas. Drive up our manufacturing industry and stop the crazy situation where cheap parts are shipped halfway across the world from China and then back again to be destroyed. Nothing is worse for the environment than unnecessary consumption.

I know it is difficult to do the opposite of what seems logical and there is a huge hole to be filled from somewhere. However short term thinking is not what we require right now as it’s exactly the type of thinking that saw short term profits over long term investment that has led us to the mess we are in.

The choices that George Osborne makes this week will affect this country for years and possibly decades to follow. For all of our sakes I hope he makes the right decisions.

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