Autumn budget has no spark

Alan Campbell MP
Alan Campbell MP

It seems appropriate that in the week before Bonfire Night the Chancellor’s budget has proved to be a damp squib.

It wasn’t as if there hadn’t been plenty of hype beforehand.

The Prime Minister had announced an end to austerity, her Chancellor spoke only of austerity coming to an end.

After the Chancellor announced extra funding for the NHS, the independent Kings Fund said it was nowhere near enough.

The Chancellor spoke of holding tax-avoiding, high-tech giants to account, but it’s much too little, too late.

Help for small businesses on rates and on apprenticeships, whilst a welcome step, doesn’t actually undo the damage the Chancellor’s previous budgets did.

Increases in the National Living and Minimum Wages go nowhere near addressing lost pay growth over the last eight years.

There was no new announcement on local authority funding, main school budgets or police budgets. Without those things we risk having to face further cuts to services, crumbling buildings and rising crime.

By choosing to spend any brief windfall trying to keep his MP’s content rather than paying off the deficit or investing in the long term, the Chancellor, who prides himself on looking long term, suddenly looks very short term.

And bizarrely, while avoiding a budget on Halloween to escape the blood chilling headlines, the Chancellor admitted that he may well have to return after Brexit with an emergency budget. That really could be a nightmare.