Our children will be the ones to pay
National debt is building up
CHANCELLOR Phillip Hammond still hasn’t balanced the books.
The Government spends more every year than it receives. In other words, it’s still running up a deficit.
That means the national debt is going up rather than down.
And eventually, all that money has to be paid off - if not by you and me then by our children.
Cutting debt was the justification for all sorts of things the Government did. Reducing police funding, for example, or giving nurses and teachers a below-inflation pay rise.
George Osborne, the former Chancellor, once said he’d get rid off the deficit by 2015. It didn’t happen.
And now, experts at the Office for Budget Responsibility, the Treasury’s official watchdog, say we’re going to have a deficit until 2030. But something’s changed. Even though he talks tough, it looks like Mr Hammond is planning to ease back on austerity.
For one thing, he’s dropped a heavy hint that he will give nurses and other NHS staff a decent pay rise.
In recent years, their pay increase has been limited to 1% a year.
It’s better than nothing, but when inflation is more than 1% it means their pay is being cut in real terms - which is what counts. And inflation is 3%.
In his Budget statement, Mr Hammond said he was ready to provide funding for a new pay system “to improve recruitment and retention”.
In other words, he’s willing to pay them more. And that’s just part of it. Policing Minister Nick Hurd has been telling police and crime commissioners they can expect good news when they receive their funding allocations in December, or so the Commissioners say.
Since 2010 police budgets have been cut or frozen - which again means they were actually cut in real terms.
And the impact has been significant, because it means there are now fewer police on the streets.
A change of policy, even if it just means that police forces get a funding increase to match inflation, will provide some relief.
Mr Hammond said last week that he had chosen “a balanced approach”.
It meant that he was dealing with the debt, he said. But that wasn’t the only consideration.
Reducing the burden of austerity is the smart move politically.
Labour is promising a spending spree paid for by more borrowing and massive tax rises that will hit the super-rich but, apparently, leave the rest of us untouched.
They haven’t everybody.
But Labour’s vision looks more attractive if the only alternative from the Tories is constant misery. convinced