The budget and the productivity black hole

The ONS tells us productivity is still not rising. They say they got their forecasts wrong again and need to serve up worse figures for the UK outlook just in time for the budget.

I am not surprised they got the numbers wrong. They usually do get them wrong. They were fashionably too pessimistic for the year after the Brexit vote. It is a difficult task to get right.

Nor am I surprised they and others are worsening their figures for next year as growth is slowing a bit. I have forecast continuing problems in the housing and car markets thanks to tax attacks by successive Chancellors and to credit tightening by the Bank of England.

Productivity is stagnant for good as well as bad reasons. The UK economy continues to generate a lot of extra jobs in lower value added activities, whilst high value added like oil production and some banking services are in decline. Its good news we are creating more jobs. Industrial productivity is doing fine. The bad news is the weak productivity performance of the large public sector.


So what should the Chancellor do? Instead of going gloomy and saying there is no money for spending or tax cuts he should have a budget for extra growth.  Selective tax cuts to boost incentives and enterprise should  figure prominently. As I have often described, the right tax cuts can also pull in more revenue. The public sector does need a bit of extra spending and needs to help people work smarter. We need to make sure all EU contributions stop in March 2019 to help pay our bills.


  1. Lifelogic
    October 8, 2017


    You are quite right “problems in the housing and car markets thanks to tax attacks by successive Chancellors and to credit tightening by the Bank of England.” Even taxing “profits” that are not being made thus attacking tenants with higher rents and fewer properties available.

    Osborne’s misguided attacks on Non Doms were also a huge mistake the government shooting the economy in the foot as usual.

    Tax cuts are by far the best way to boost the economy. Bank lending is also absurdly slow, restrictive with high margins and many totally irrational restrictions.

    The productivity problem is almost entirely due to government being so bloated, misguided and delivering so little of value. Nearly everything they do (tax complexity, gender pay reporting, work place pensions, taxing landlord interest, deposit protection schemes. planning complexity and irrationality, apprenticeship taxes and the other endless red tape – in all industries) generates lots more essentially parasitic and unproductive jobs.

    For growth we want cheap reliable energy, easy hire and fire, relaxed planning, a far smaller state sector, simpler lower taxes, real competition in banks and the state to get out of the way. This and cancel all the absurd grand projects and return the money in tax cuts.

  2. Bob Dixon
    October 8, 2017

    Phillip Hammond does not fill me with confidence that he will do as you ask.

    1. Lifelogic
      October 8, 2017

      Philip Hammond is a tax borrow and piss down the drain, green crap , socialist remainer and an economic illiterate just the same as Osborne, Cameron and May are.

      Anyone in favour of HS2, Hinkley C, 15% stamp duty turnover taxes, endless tax increases, endless tax complexity increase, virtual state monopolies in health and education, mugging private pension pots, chasing the wealthy, hard working & Non Doms out of the county, taxing people on profits that do not even exist …… clearly must be as economically illiterate.

      1. Lifelogic
        October 8, 2017

        Excellent piece by Daniel Hannan today in the Sunday Telegraph – mainly about the real threat of Corbyn’s evil agenda – “I remember when Leftist thugs invaded my farm”.

        But it is also about the stupidity of May’s soft left agenda when faced by this Corbyn threat. May should perhaps be grateful that the content of her childish, socialist speech was largely ignored – due to the delivery of the P45 and her sore throat. Who wrote this lefty drivel speech and how was it allowed through? I though that after the manifesto fiasco they had booted most of the lefty dopes of such rolls. It seems not.

        1. Squire Western
          October 8, 2017

          ‘Roles’, not ‘rolls’……unless they are filled with sausage.

        2. Richard1
          October 8, 2017

          She is clearly grossly inadequate as PM however there is nothing to be gained by a change now. There is no majority in the HoC for Thatcherite, pro-market polices. Therefore a resolute and rational approach to Brexit – which Theresa May seems at least to be presiding over, if not leading -is the best thing until March 2019. Then we need a leader who can take the fight to Corbyn and the Marxist bullies and win a majority for a subsequent government to pursue sensible policies, by that time independent from the EU.

        3. rose
          October 8, 2017

          On the contrary, when Mr Timothy went, things got worse, because for all his shortcomings, at least he was a Brexiteer.

    2. Diogenes
      October 8, 2017

      “Philip Hammond does not fill me with confidence that he will do as you ask”.
      Quite a funny statement: why should the Chancellor do as asked by a backbencher?
      You are clearly overstating JR’s influence, and that seems a behaviour shared by a lot of contributors on this blog. You might feel good pouring your heart out on this blog, but as far as I am concerned, I do not see that much impact of JR’s daily blogs on the policies of the day.

      1. Anonymous
        October 8, 2017

        A majority of 1.3 million support Brexit.

        That JR is on the back bench is unjust.

      2. mickc
        October 8, 2017

        The general idea is that backbenchers reflect the mood of their supporters and voters. The Ministers can then judge which policies are likely to be badly received.
        Of course, with Cameron’s effective destruction of the grassroots system that no longer works. The result was apparent in the last election.

    3. Leslie Singleton
      October 9, 2017

      Dear Bob–It fills me with gloom that we should have May and Hammond as our 1 and 2–They are Remainers and boring and depressing and uninspiring when what we need is an electrifying War leader (because War is what we are engaged in with the EU and internally)–who can stand up without spouting Leftie-isms such as council housing and capped (capped?) “free” markets. I read that Nadine Dorries wants Hammond out. She can say that again. At least that would be half the problem gone.

      1. Leslie Singleton
        October 9, 2017

        Postscript–Remember Nadine saw through Cameron and Osborne early on in the proceedings. And now I read that May is going to threaten the EU by warning them that the ball is in their court. Ye Gods, I’m sure that’s going to frighten them. And if it’s not that, the word is along the lines of, If they don’t become reasonable by Xmas or by some other vague time well in the future then it might be No Deal (maybe, but then maybe not). Pusillanimous twaddle–We should just leave, as voted for. I am in the camp that says that it is Hammond who has been disloyal–Maybe we need another referendum on whether to ditch him.

  3. Lifelogic
    October 8, 2017

    Only a daft socialist like May could say something at half witted as this:-

    “I want to send the clearest possible message to our house builders. We, the government, will make sure the land is available. We’ll make sure our young people have the skills you need. In return, you must do your duty to Britain and build the homes our country needs.”

    Ordering developers to “do their duty”! The duty of developers is to make a profit and ensure they can pay their staff, The reason they do not build more houses as that planning restrictions, planning delays, huge over taxation, endless red tape, OTT green crap building control, expensive energy, expensive utility connections, social housing taxes, planning gain taxes, daft employment laws, lack of sensible bank finance ….. mean that only a few developments are profitable to build.

    You will not persuade sensible developers to build more by ordering them to build loss making ones or what their duties are!

    “Disloyal Conservative MPs should stop undermining Theresa May or risk allowing Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street” says Sir John Major.

    Well it certainly worked well when the Tories absurdly retained “dead in the water” John Major after his ERM fiasco, Mastricht and his failure to even apologise.
    With May is it just the same or even worse, it is surely clear that we again have “no change no chance”. There is not point in being loyal to someone with a duff compass pointing over the cliff like May or Major.

    We need a real Conservative in charge one with workable policies- and not a half witted light version of Corbyn’s socialism – bossing developers about like a daft primary school teacher.

    Developers know a lot more about how to build houses that Theresa May and government does! Just get the government obstacles out of their way dear.

    1. graham1946
      October 9, 2017

      If developers don’t want to develop and provide what the nation needs then they cannot complain if the government does it for them. They overcharge, sit on land already permissioned waiting for increase in value and prevent smaller developers getting a look in. Small developers are on the decrease, larger ones ever increasing profits. We cannot rely on the so called market to build the homes needed – it hasn’t done in the last ten years and won’t while they want to put up ‘executive’ houses for ever more profit. The government agencies sit on vast acreages of unused land and this can and should be made available, but not to the big developers who already have a stranglehold on the market.

  4. Dame Rita Webb
    October 8, 2017

    “The UK economy continues to generate a lot of extra jobs in lower value added activities”. Yep absolutely and you combine that with open borders you only make things worse. We admit people who make a living through washing cars by hand diverting motorists away from automated car washes. Chancellor Hammond would also have money to play with if he did not have to pay benefits to the unemployed, 20% of whom were not born here either.

    1. Atlantic Span
      October 8, 2017

      So ‘Dame Rita Webb’ how are the unemployed supposed to eat when they’re unemployed and looking for a job?

      1. Dame Rita Webb
        October 8, 2017

        That’s a problem for their home governments to sort out not ours

        1. Atlantic Span
          October 8, 2017

          I sincerely hope you never need find yourself in such a parlous position.

      2. Lifelogic
        October 8, 2017

        The more benefits you pay the more claimants and work shy you will get. Of course the minimum wage law also legally prevents some people from working at all (or even learning to work). The government as usual is the problem.

    2. Newmania
      October 8, 2017

      Funny that. Brexit was largely inflicted on us by a coalition of the retired and unemployed , I did quite a bit of campaigning in the last election and often spoke to the wizened denizens of manicured Bungalows now into their third decade of idleness. How they winged about the Poles in the town( dear dear there are all of 30 form the EU) not contributing.

      One of the problems with the old ,and this is not their fault , is that educational standards at the time were very poor and many are barely literate .
      In fact workers coming here does not reduce wages it increases the size of the regional economy and creates jobs , basic stuff

      Reply A lot of us in employment and many entrepreneurs voted for Brexit

      1. fedupsoutherner
        October 8, 2017


        You are so damned rude in your assumptions that because we are ‘old’ we are uneducated. If you ask me we have more common sense than a lot of youngsters, can do more in the way of DIY, know more general knowledge and it is the ‘old’ down to earth workers who are disappearing now only to be replaced by youngsters who have no idea about basic skills such as plastering and general jobs around the house. It all depends on your opinion of what a good education is. Just because we are ‘old’ it doesn’t mean we are not intelligent enough to see that this country could do well outside the EU. The only workers coming here that are a benefit to us are those who earn enough to support themselves without us having to pay their rents and put food into their mouths. We do not need them. Let their countries feed and support them.

      2. Anonymous
        October 8, 2017

        Our vote clearly hit the target.

        You caused Brexit, Newmania.

        Keep up the good work.

        1. Anonymous
          October 8, 2017

          “One of the problems with the old ,and this is not their fault , is that educational standards at the time were very poor and many are barely literate .
          In fact workers coming here does not reduce wages it increases the size of the regional economy and creates jobs , basic stuff”


          1. Anonymous
            October 8, 2017

            It would *not* be the first time he’s hit the national press saying nasty things about the locals.

      3. 37/6
        October 8, 2017

        The basic laws of economics I know are this:

        – the more people available to do my job the lower my wages (hence the need to introduce minimum wage.)

        – the more people competing for the house I want to buy the more expensive it is (hence the need to introduce Help to Buy.)

      4. Richard1
        October 8, 2017

        isnt this a rather snobbish take on it – and very inaccurate also, as many leading economists and business people also supported Brexit?

      5. A.Sedgwick
        October 9, 2017

        “These wizened citizens in their third decade of idleness” could have fought in WW2, certainly lived through it, could read, write and be far more adept at mental arithmetic than most today. You are exceedingly ignorant and arrogant, which demeans any argument you may have – grow up!

    3. Narrow Shoulders
      October 8, 2017

      It’s not just the unemployed being imported we pay for houses and kids and tax credits for imported workers too

      1. Narrow Shoulders
        October 8, 2017

        I have nothing against regulated numbers of workers arriving but feel strongly that anyone moving country for economic reasons should recognise it will be hard and must not be motivated by the prospect of taxpayer handouts.

    4. Ed Mahony
      October 8, 2017

      “The UK economy continues to generate a lot of extra jobs in lower value added activities”

      – If we want to create high value jobs exporting to the new markets then it doesn’t matter if we’re in our out of the EU. We need to create more and better products and services. Simple (the approach, at least, not the practice). The Germans are helped by the Euro, but the main reason for their great exporting success is that they create great brands that people want to buy. And if we leave the single market, people in the UK will still want to buy BMWs and Mercedes, and the rest, just like the Chinese do, and the Japanese, and the Americans. So the problem in the UK is fundamentally with work culture (at every level). This is something we can only try and address by investment in skills, support the high tech industry (leading to quality jobs and not putting all our eggs in one basked with the financial services industry), and encouragement of work ethic. Not by leaving the single market or by deregulating the market.

      1. Ed Mahony
        October 8, 2017

        ‘deregulating the market’

        – is a very financial-services-orientated mindset (although lots of people in financial markets agree that a deregulated market leads to bad practises – not surprising as human beings love money, just as they love sex and power – not forgetting how the UK had to bail out the banks).

        We need to build up our high tech industry, helping entrepreneurs, as well as small to medium size companies go global. 1) So we don’t have all our eggs in one basket. 2) High tech industry leads to great jobs—whether it be building computer chips and mainframe servers, to creating software products and apps, and digital services in general.

        Let’s support the High Tech industry more by investing in high tech skills and education, encouraging more collaboration between companies and educational and research centres, as well as encouraging more students at school to study programming, and so on.

        I don’t hear any prominent Tories talk about this thing at all.

    5. NHSGP
      October 8, 2017

      1. Redefine tax credits are tax welfare, coming out of the welfare budget.
      2. Do the same for Housing benefits.

      Remove those from any no Brit in the UK for starters.

      A clean brexit means you can do this from A50+2Y. On the day.

      Same with deporting criminals. Have the planes lined up, and fill them up, drop them off all over Europe.

      1. Narrow Shoulders
        October 8, 2017

        Have you not noticed how many non-Europeans are also getting welfare.

        article 50 is not the magic bullet against foreign welfare abusers. Your MP needs to get the message loud and clear that we are a tolerant people of those (in manageable numbers) who contribute not those who take.

        1. rose
          October 8, 2017

          Don’t forget a lot of non Europeans came here from the EU.

          1. Diogenes
            October 9, 2017

            And how are those registered in Britain? as non-Europeans or as Europeans?

          2. rose
            October 10, 2017

            I don’t think Mrs May and Mrs Rudd’s Home Office is Germanic. By which I mean the Germans carefully register everyone who arrives.

            People from other continents coming here on EU passports acquired from various EU countries will count as EU citizens.
            You will surely have seen people described as German, French, Swedish etc who are from a different part of the world. But registered? I couldn’t say.

  5. Duncan
    October 8, 2017

    The public sector does NOT need ‘a bit of extra spending’. What the public sector needs is a massive dose of reform but that would mean confronting the vast union-state employee vested interest and the absolute complexity of its construct, all designed of course to ensure its own survival.

    The unproductive public sector is constructed in a way that makes any reform almost impossible to implement without massive political damage to the party that decides to undertake it. This is the consequence of what happens when Labour get into power, they consolidate and expand their client state ensuring it infects and creeps into all aspects of the nation’s life.

    It is depressing that the Tories have taken up Labour’s mantle on this front. The consequence of this is that both main parties become to a degree almost interchangeable which makes the election of a Marxist Labour party to government a possible eventuality in that Labour appear less extreme than they actually are as a result of the Tories gravitating towards them

    What the Tories should have done is become diametrically opposed to everything Labour now stands for. Unfortunately we have May and Hammond who have capitulated to the left on all areas of public policy. This pathetic bending to Labour and their ideas could mean a Labour govt in 2020

    It is unnerving to see so many Tory MP’s backing May and Hammond. Maybe today most MP’s are nothing more than public sector workers whose primary aim is the protection of their pay, pensions and entitlements

    This country is heading for a disaster and the Tories will be to blame

    1. A.Sedgwick
      October 9, 2017

      I agree, the £1.8 trillion public sector pension time bomb will keep pace at least with our published national debt. Cable thought we only had 3 million public sector workers – if only.

  6. Peter
    October 8, 2017

    Productivity is a rather difficult concept to quantify for many occupations. It is fine if you have a factory producing widgets but rather more complicated if you go beyond that.

    Like ‘key performance indicators’ which are also a feature of the modern workplace it is something that often does not bear scrutiny. Nor is it appropriate for every situation.

    I am reminded of the comedy mocumentary on the BBC ‘W1A’. The hopeless HR woman with the ridiculous job title talks of ‘finding more ways of doing less of what we currently do better.’ She reminds me of Mrs. May in some ways. She says very little apart from ‘Yes exactly’ but for reasons that are not obvious – except people find her rather intimidating – she has somehow risen to the top.

  7. Tom Rogers
    October 8, 2017

    The public sector needs to undergo a radical contradiction – for political, economic and fiscal reasons. Once Brexit is completed, the Left’s citadels in the BBC, the Civil Service and local government should undergo a comprehensive and sustained assault.

    1. Tom Rogers
      October 8, 2017

      Sorry, ‘contraction’. Posting too early in the morning.

  8. Original Richard
    October 8, 2017

    “The UK economy continues to generate a lot of extra jobs in lower value added activities, whilst high value added like oil production and some banking services are in decline.”

    Yes, our GDP/hours worked is already 30% less than that of France.

    This is terrible news and the reason we need to leave the EU to help stop the uncontrolled inward migration of “cheap” subsidised labour which only benefits the corporates at the expense of the taxpayer who has to fund healthcare, welfare benefits and the building of housing, schools, hospitals, prisons and infrastructure to accommodate all these extra workers.

    This is in addition to depressing wages and discouraging the corporates to invest in measures to improve productivity.

    We do not need an inexhaustible supply of car washers, taxi drivers, sandwich and coffee makers and delivery drivers. Especially when AI, such as driverless vehicles, comes along as it surely will.

  9. Glenn Vaughan
    October 8, 2017


    Your prescription does not have a chance of being fulfilled under the current regime.

  10. Jason Wells
    October 8, 2017

    Here we go again- JR pontificating about the in’s and out’s of what we should be doing, although he himself is nearer to the Tory government centre than the rest of us so if he, with all his wide financial experience, can’t bring about the changes that he wants then what hope for the rest of us?

    The final line in this piece today catches my eye- we need to make sure all EU contributions stop in March 2019 to help pay our bills- all very well and OK except the PM has put forward other ideas like the wish to stay on in transition phase for a couple of years where we will continue to contribute the same as now? so how do we square that circle- where does the truth lie? where is reality in all of this? is this all fake news I ask myself or just for light reading? Well I expect we’ll know a lot more after the EU council meeting in a few weeks- isn’t it strange how we cannot rely on our own government to say how we are doing in the talks but have to rely on EU council summits to spell it out.

  11. agricola
    October 8, 2017

    One could improve public sector productivity by privatising swathes of them, but government likes to have a hand in all this inactivity so it won’t happen.

    The subject that intrigues me is the great opacity in knowing what the EU really wants out of all this negotiation, so called. I do hope the intelligence at government level is keeping our team fed with the EU’s true intentions.

    Publicly we have Merkel and Macron apparently blocking Brexit because they wish to stop Barnier succeeding Junker. Junker supposedly fears a Barnier Davis deal because this would loosen the ties to his federal Europe idea. Hungary, Poland, and I think the Czech Republic are in conflict with the EU over taking immigrants. Now democracy in Spain is in question over Catalan independence. The EU has so many issues that they look an illogical choice for anyone, let alone a team that is trying to get a coherent response on the issues arising from Brexit.

    I feel we should conclude on reciprocal citizens rights and the Irish border. I would point out that were there a free trade deal then the Irish border would be largely irrelevant. We should then give the EU a deadline on meaningful trade talks. If for instance they are still prevaricating by December this year then they should be told that we are trading on WTO rules after March 2019. That should give us plenty of time to put the mechanisms in place. I would hope that by now we have a very clear plan in place for such an eventuality.

    To persist with the current farce is making our government and resolve look weak, enabling remoaners to continue their carping. Lack of resolution will ultimately make our government weak and ultimately open the doors to years of Marxist depravation that will drive talent from our shores. My advice is get a grip.

    Captcha is running in ever decreasing circles , but no sign of it disappearing where it should.

  12. Iain Moore
    October 8, 2017

    Its not rocket science, when you flood a market with a lot of cheap labour you create a lot of cheap labour jobs, reducing the pressure on companies to invest in productivity, and of course deteriorating Government finances as tax revenues don’t come in, and they have to subsidise all these low wage jobs.

  13. Newmania
    October 8, 2017

    I`m not convinced we can borrow and spend our way out of the Brexit slow down any more than we have. Personally I prefer the reponsible stewardship of the economy shown by George Osborne and ,oddly , John Redwood was very keen at the time .
    Who knew that his optimal course was in fact the same one recommended by Ed Milliband but with rather more spending .
    I`m shocked , shocked, to see gambling with our lives jobs and money amongst these Brexit zealots

  14. fedupsoutherner
    October 8, 2017

    Off Topic. Just been watching Ruth Davidson talking on the Marr show. What an impressive woman she is. She is forthright, quick with her answers, on the ball, positive, uses her initiative, recognises that we have to acknowledge the referendum result, sensible and easy to listen to. She is way above Mrs May. Now, we have a complete opposite on. Nicola Sturgeon who will do everything to thwart the UK’s position on Brexit and everything else.

    1. Dame Rita Webb
      October 8, 2017

      Yes but her policies are exactly the same as Mrs May’s

    2. Squire Western
      October 8, 2017

      I cannot understand the amount of good press Ruth Davidson has been getting in the press; when all’s said and done she remains a Scottish lesbian with poor Brexit credentials.

      1. fedupsoutherner
        October 8, 2017

        Squire Western

        What has being a lesbian got to do with anything? A very below the belt comment.

  15. fedupsoutherner
    October 8, 2017

    Agree with your points John. The decision by Sturgeon and co to ban fracking for good in Scotland flies in the face of common sense when the oil industry has had to shed so many jobs and these men and women could find employment in the fracking industry and the money would come in handy for the economy too. Typical short term thinking and feeding on the opinion of the Greens who always prop them up in government. Where is the best interest of the country?

  16. formula57
    October 8, 2017

    “So what should the Chancellor do?” – well almost certainly something different to what he is going to do!

    Another maladroit, lucklustre, gloomy budget that is universally panned is not going to help the government: doesn’t Chancellor Hammond know this?

  17. Chris
    October 8, 2017

    Mr Redwood, Mrs May has answered questions ambiguously on the future of Boris Johnston, with some indication that she is preparing to get rid of him and possibly get younger people into the Cabinet who “adapt” more easily to new ideas”. If this happens it would constitute to date the most flagrant indication that Brexit is not going to be what we voted for, but a Remainers’ charter. Besides this being a gross violation of democracy in my view, it is an incredibly stupid thing to do, and will almost certainly lead to a leadership challenge. I have had my doubts about Theresa May’s talent and intelligence over the last few years, but in the last 18 months I have decided that she seems to have neither, but is merely a useful tool to the powers that be – putty in the Remainers’ hands.

  18. Roy Grainger
    October 8, 2017

    John Major says we need more public spending. I assume May and Hammond will agree.

  19. Dave Andrews
    October 8, 2017

    No-one outside economists knows what is meant by productivity. It makes sense in an industrial context, but who can understand how it should apply to the public sector?

    Not so much productivity black hole as productivity black art.

  20. Caterpillar
    October 8, 2017

    (Public sector productivity always hard to measure so cannot comment)

    General points: (again) net capital formation only just ahead of population growth- low disconnects are sufficient and zombies continue because of Zirp, infinite supply of low cost Labour (e.g economic migrants + zero hour contracts),

    UK likes 7 day operation with a consumption obsession (partially due to the way GDP is measured) hence shops staffed and opened more than needed reproduce same sales – can only be tackled by regulated shop and work hours (or cartels and unions) but we have a tendency against this.

    We don’t like high unemployment so happy to have much low productivity work rather than benefits (because of fear of people getting stuck on benefits) Higher unemployment with higher productivity is OK if people do not get trapped in unemployment (though many are just trapped in low paid jobs instead).

    Efficiency loss due to slow commutes, exhausted workers as consequence of population density and hours worked.

    Etc, Etc

    Policies: stop ZIRP, reduce immigration (for immediate post Brexit future, require evidence that immigrant will add more to GDP than current GDP per capita – if not productivity by definition will go down), introduce basic guaranteed income for all instead of benefits so people can traverse periods of unemployment (and to change our attitude), improve public transport, train behaviour at school (so where possible employees are trusted to work from home or flexibly) …

    1. Caterpillar
      October 8, 2017

      “disconnects” Should read “risk projects” – autocorrects of typos can be too creative.

    2. Diogenes
      October 9, 2017

      UK GDP per capita was £41608.98 in 2016.
      How many of us on this blog would fulfill this requirement?

  21. Lifelogic
    October 8, 2017

    So John Major calls for radical action on Mrs May’s social justice agenda to “win back hearts and minds” or risk the prospect of “neo-Marxist” Jeremy Corbyn taking the keys to Number 10.

    Well firstly we already have a misguided socialist in number 10 and secondly why would anyone take the advice of John (ERM and no apology) Major? The man who destroyed the economy with the absurd ERM, buried the Tories for three + terms, and increases taxes hand over fist. Even then we only got lefty, tax increasing EUphile Cameron!

    Is John Major really a man to “win back hearts and minds” I hardly think so?

    1. Dame Rita Webb
      October 8, 2017

      Yes just what civilisation needs in the UK more stuff from the man who brought you “back to basics” and the cones hotline

    2. Chris
      October 8, 2017

      Agreed, Lifelogic.

      1. rose
        October 8, 2017

        Except that you forgot JM also destroyed our defences in the hope of winning the next election.

    3. Mark B
      October 8, 2017

      JM – The biggest mistake MT ever made.

  22. Prigger
    October 8, 2017

    The Chancellor will be remembered for his budget speech on 22nd November 2017. I feel it is unlikely he will ever deliver another or be PM, so he should like a cough sweet not chomp it quickly but for as long as possible suck it.

  23. JJE
    October 8, 2017

    I expect some pointless tinkering around the edges.
    But it won’t do anything to get rid of the whiff of decay around this government.

    It will be Mr. McDonells first budget that will be the next one to matter. People I know are already selling up UK assets and taking the money out.

    Trying to be Labour lite is a pointless strategy. The youth vote is lost to you now. The PM has no mandate and no beliefs.

    You can rot slowly or take some decisive action.

  24. Bert Young
    October 8, 2017

    A lot does depend on what comes from the Chancellor and , sadly , there has been little from him to motivate and encourage growth . The same is true with consumers ; often they are supplied with goods from abroad that are often badly made with wrong sizes , poor colours and standards that fall a long way short of satisfactory ; they should always give preference to things made in this country .

    In terms of creation , research and design and development there are few countries that can match our capability ; the sad thing is that decisions are then made to have the results of their creativity made elsewhere because of labour costs . We have to be more selective about this sort of thing in the future . Recently publicity was given to the activity of recruitment companies who were luring some of our bright graduates to relocate to Spain ; this is not a recent phenomena , the international automotive organisations have for many years attracted some of our best designers to move abroad to them .

    It is not the first time that responders have wished for John to be Chancellor . We know that he is probably the most qualified MP to undertake this role and we all wish that Theresa would appoint him as such to her team . We all want the best from our leaders and his appointment would be just that .

  25. Duncan
    October 8, 2017


    Stop pandering to the left, stand up and declare your small State-free market beliefs and confront the Marxist rabble in Labour who yearn to see the wholesale transfer of industrial power back over to their union paymasters

    If Unite, the RMT, GMB etc etc get their hands on large areas of the UK economy they will use it to hold to ransom the private sector

    we can see the massive costs imposed upon the taxpayer by public sector union dominance. These same people will try to impose their influence in the private sector in the way they do in the public sector

    Tell May that it’s the private sector who pays the bills and isn’t the enemy. Her pandering to the unions on areas such as employment law, workers on private sector company boards, gender reporting and all the other Labour tosh is pathetic in the extreme. This level of interference is virtue signalling is simply unacceptable

    The tories have lost their bottle and the left is slowly, like a cancer, taking over

  26. Epikouros
    October 8, 2017

    We all know that economic growth always slows then usually stops then we have a recession it is part and parcel of the the economic cycle. As yet no one has come up with a solution although recently Yellen says she has but like Gordon Brown who said the same she will no doubt be hoisted on her own petard. The signs of a slow down are starting to manifest themselves. It has started with the motor vehicle credit market over inflating in the USA and now here in the UK. It started correcting by making credit harder to come by and then of course Philip Hammond has also added his own incentives to dissuade the purchase of vehicles.

    The chance of another recession in the near future is high just statistically but there are many other systemic problems caused by political interference looking to deflate so it is certain. Brexit and capitalism will take a lot of the blame which will be nonsense but it will not stop Brexit being curtailed and the election of Corbyn as prime minister.

  27. libertarian
    October 8, 2017


    Lower value jobs are declining as automation and robotics take over…. Higher value jobs are on the increase

    wages in digital are now growing faster than any other category including banking and finance due to the severe shortage of skills

    The drop again in productivity is entirely due to government interference, time wasting, increased regulation, over population, both local motorways have been closed to traffic at peak times more than 6 times in the last month, our roads in south east are at grid lock and productivity measurements are just so 20th century

    1. a-tracy
      October 9, 2017

      Those motorways that are open are often set at 50mph instead of 70mph even when it’s quiet, so much for SMART. Accidents are increasing in these 50mph sections not decreasing too.

  28. graham1946
    October 8, 2017

    ‘The UK economy continues to generate a lot of extra jobs in lower value added activities, whilst high value added like oil etc are in decline.’

    We have known this for years and have said so here many times. However whenever any minister or Tory politician is challenged about it, they all say the majority of the jobs ‘created’ (as if politiicans ever created anything useful) are good jobs. Are they lying? – heaven forfend.

    It is pretty obvious that with high levels of employment claimed record levels of Corporation Tax claimed to be received and VAT at an all time high yet you cannot even get near balancing the books after 7 years, and according to Hammond need another 8 years something is wrong.

    Productivity in industry is not fine – cheap labour leads to low investment. As I said a couple of weeks ago industrialists in the sixties used to say ‘when times are hard we ca’t afford to invest, when times are good we don’t need to’. We are becoming a low age economy again. If it were not so there would be no need of governments laying down minimum and living wage levels and taxes would be enough to cover the bills.

  29. Ian Wragg
    October 8, 2017

    How can productivity increase when we have an endless supply of cheap labour.
    All that happens is the benefits bill increases as the low paid immigrants claim in work benefits.
    If todays Telegraph is to be believed something positive happening about Brexit. Preparation for a no deal. Perhaps May has woken up at last and seen the negotiations for what they are. A disciplinary hearing and humiliation for Britain.

    1. Chris
      October 8, 2017

      No, I think it is just trying to be all things to all men, and trying to keep the lid on Boris support.

      1. rose
        October 8, 2017

        And the No Deal money won’t come till next year.

    2. Bob
      October 8, 2017

      “Preparation for a no deal.”

      Mrs May has always been good at talking tough but she never follows through.

      It’s designed to delay and obfuscate to avoid an actual Brexit at any cost.

  30. Sakara Gold
    October 8, 2017

    The Chancellor might think about fiscal ways to stimulate the export sector and reduce the twin deficits that have plagued our economy since the 1980’s. As a country we live beyond our means and bold decisions to reduce the size of government taken now might prevent worse pain in the future.

    People have had enough of austerity whilst watching the rich get richer. Scrap universal benefit, which is penalising the working poor and give the nurses a pay rise, or we will see Corbin in power in the not too distant future.

  31. Denis Cooper
    October 8, 2017

    According to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party a tax on robots would be a good way to improve worker productivity. I suppose this is like the old Luddite machine-breaking but without actually breaking the machines.

    It’s strange to think back to my schooldays when there were serious concerns about how tens of millions of workers would fill their time and keep out of mischief after their jobs had been ruthlessly automated out of existence. Now the converse plea from business leaders is that they simply can’t find enough indigenous workers and so they must keep importing massive numbers of (cheap and biddable) foreign workers.

    I would repeat one point here which is relevant both to Jeremy Corbyn’s desire to prevent technological change and therefore the gradual improvement of productivity – which the media rejoices to tell us has just dropped further by all of 0.1%, another sign of the huge damage being done by Brexit – and also to those possible adverse effects of Brexit, and that is about the very high level of “churn” in the UK labour market:

    Each year millions of existing jobs are destroyed and new jobs are created, and all those terrible warnings that “x thousand jobs could be at risk” thanks to some aspect of Brexit have to be seen in that context.

  32. Prigger
    October 8, 2017

    Last Paragraph…”…there is no money for…… tax cuts …” This betrays the general attitude of MPs and government. A very bad attitude. The money before we pay tax belongs to us. The government does not need money for tax cuts. Just stop darn well taking our money!!!!. It is OURS not yours to “give” tax cuts!!!!

  33. forthurst
    October 8, 2017

    The civil service needs to be pruned. Too much time is wasted by workers in the field complying with instructions and filling in forms concocted by civil servants in Whitehall none of whom has ever done the jobs about which they are being so prescriptive. I am constantly reading of complaints by local people of the police failing to investigate crimes because of the time they claim it takes to fill in the prescribed forms: the police exist to keep us safe, not to provide civil servants with feedback on compliance with the latest pc (polically correct, not police constable) fad.

    There are hierarchies which exist for no other reason than that some dweeb in Whitehall thought it would be a good idea and which duplicate activities: when I was scheduled to attend a local hospital, I looked online for some information about it and found upwards of half a dozen NHS sites of varying levels of detail relating to the hospital with only one containing the information for which I was looking. There are far too many adminstrators some of whom are taking medical decisions for which they have no qualifications putting patient safety at risk.

    There needs to be a complete abolition of laws which force employers both public and private to maintain a ‘balance’ of employees concerning issues which have nothing to do with their abilties to do the job. Employers often employ some people as tokens who get in the way of those who actually are competent. Women do not need to be able to do all the jobs that men do and vice-versa and when that employment leads to degradation of effectiveness such as in the armed forces, it is putting the safety of the country and its servicemen behind the latest piece of nonsense concocted by those across the Atlantic who are trying to destroy our civilisation by undermining it.

    It needs to be far easier to get rid of an employee who is incompetent even if he is also a member of a protected species. I not infrequently found myself as a contractor doing other peoples work as well as my own in order to ensure that the project as a whole was successful.

    1. rose
      October 8, 2017

      Yes, the quotas for different sorts of employee are a very worrying development. Soon there won’t be any Englishmen left in employment by the time all the favoured groups have been catered for. I know of one very large concern in which the CEO has created a lot of silly jobs specially for token women and left the older caucasian men in place. But how many companies can afford to do that and for how long would they be allowed to?

  34. Denis Cooper
    October 8, 2017

    Off-topic, I thought I was fairly hardened to this kind of thing from the media but even I was a little shocked to see a celebrated and highly paid BBC journalist trying to inveigle the First Minister of Scotland into promising that she would unlawfully exceed her devolved authority by officially recognising a supposedly independent but illegitimate government of Catalonia set up after a referendum which had been declared unlawful and forbidden beforehand not just by the Spanish government but by Spanish courts …

  35. Denis Cooper
    October 8, 2017

    Also off-topic, here is the programme for the next round of EU negotiations:

    And it starts tomorrow with “Technical working groups”, a note explaining that:

    “There are three technical working groups covering citizens’ rights, financial settlement and other separation issues … Additional technical working groups may be scheduled during the week.”

    Oh, jolly good, so let’s have a technical working group on future trade relations.

    Or, as the EU seems to have already decided that we are not to have any special future trade relations, no deep and special relationship about trade whatever Theresa May suggests – forget all those airy declarations about the Union’s neighbourhood policy and about the Union promoting trade liberalisation in the EU’s own treaties, as nothing in the EU treaties ever counts for anything unless they have good reasons to want it to count – then let’s at least have a technical working group on customs co-operation, just to try to minimise those predicted long queues of trucks on either side of the Channel.

    1. Denis Cooper
      October 8, 2017

      Not that his view will count for much, but:

      “Denmark dismisses EU’s wrangling over Brexit divorce bill as ‘a game'”

      “Danish finance minister boosts UK’s hopes of securing a Brexit trade deal, saying a swift political compromise is required”

  36. Peter
    October 8, 2017

    Raab is now saying that preparations for ‘No Deal’ are being done IN SECRET.

    Give me a break!

    Nobody believes that. What are you trying to hide?

    1. Denis Cooper
      October 8, 2017

      Of course we should not tell the EU how we plan to counter the attacks they are likely to make against us. Would you have given the Germans all the details of our new radar defences as they being prepared? Would you have said the information should be put into the public domain, or “Give me a break, what are you hiding”?

    2. Chris
      October 8, 2017

      I think Raab has proved to be a huge disappointment. Groupthink has prevailed?

  37. Turboterrier.
    October 8, 2017

    The bad news is the weak productivity performance of the large public sector.

    Long will it remain all the time that there is no incentive to cut the waste and the public sector refuse to actually invest in their staff to work smarter instead of harder. They will not adopt any forward thinking policies, because it will mean that a lot of positions will be threatened as the critical mass of the work force properly trained and supported will make a lot of these so called “essential roles” totally redundant. But on the good side I know of a large number of public sector employees just sitting at their desks marking time and waiting for their golden bowler, these should be targeted and given their wish and shown the door. For all the sectors in which they are reliant on public funding the time has come to put up or shut up and walk. What is needed is new visions and beliefs. Bit like the Tory Party at the moment?

  38. Prigger
    October 8, 2017

    The ONS or a more appropriate governmental department should look into Optimals or Optimums. It is tiresome speaking of growth in terms of more cars more houses. Ideally, would they ONS see a growth in housing stock of three times our national requirement or each of us owning and having paid for ten new cars as a healthy economy or merely people who had followed blindly the ONS pied-piper and penny-whistle coughers?

  39. Denis Cooper
    October 8, 2017

    Off-topic, again, all the way through their legal challenges Lord Pannick and others argued that an Article 50 TEU notice could not be recalled, it was like firing a bullet from a gun, but now some of the Remoaners want to argue the opposite way:

    “Theresa May under pressure over ‘secret advice’ on halting Brexit”

    In my eyes these people are beneath contempt, not because of the way they voted in the referendum but because they now refuse to accept the result and will do everything they possibly can to neutralise it.

    And they have no scruples whatever about undermining our national interests by doing that; they do not care that they are making themselves into enemies of the people.

    1. Denis Cooper
      October 8, 2017

      “Why it’s not too late to step back from the Brexit brink”

      “At any point from now, but certainly when parliament is finally faced with the likely reality; a bad deal or no deal at all, it must act in the interests of the people and order the prime minister to revoke the notification. It can do this whether or not the government says so; parliament is sovereign – in constitutional theory at least, it controls the executive; not the other way round.”

      These disgusting hypocrites now pretend to be upholding the sovereignty of our national Parliament when they have long been and still are content to see it legally subordinated to the supranational institutions of the EU.

  40. James neill
    October 8, 2017

    I’ll tell you about the black hole- at midnight 29th mzrch 2019 the lights will go out in Calais Dover and other channel ports and that will be only the start.
    Meanwhile the economy is crawling along, the government is in turmoil and supposed to be making ‘stand by’ plans for the cliff, which I very much doubt they are even doing that, and others are urging us on to WTO rules so we can do deals with China and India and countries far away..all pie in the sky.. if anyone thinks such new trade deals are going to compensate for even the tiniest loss of EU trade.

    Let me repeat at this time we have free trade with the richest economic bloc on earth, an economic bloc of 500 million people all with regular spending power, a bloc that probably any of the other 160 countries worldwide would give their right arm to be part of- and we want to leave- and for what? because we are in a huff and have not yet come to terms with the 20th century and loss of empire, not to mention the 21st century- a lot of us, especially old timers, akas, are still stuck in the 19th i’ll say that we will need to waken up fast, smell the coffee, get up to speed with our thinking and the modern world because the whole thing is in danger of slipping away from us… so now whats that you were saying about productivity and the black hole?

    Reply The lights will not go out and we will still trade with the EU once we have left!

    1. Mark B
      October 8, 2017

      If you take away Germany what do you have left ? Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy etc. All have massive problems. Poland and the other Eastern states are wholey dependent on EU / UK and German money.

      Don’t make me laugh !

    2. Richard1
      October 8, 2017

      This is a ridiculous take on it. No-one discernible was lamenting the loss of empire during the referendum. Of course Brexit is a risk and an uncertainty which is why many people who don’t support EU federalism voted Remain. But the debate came down to ‘do we need to be part of the EU political union with all its increasing costs and restrictions in order to have free trade (the only thing on which more or less the whole population is united in supporting)?’ The majority decided no we don’t -reasonable enough as there are no other free trade arrangements which require political subordination.

  41. Ed Mahony
    October 8, 2017

    ‘We need to make sure all EU contributions stop in March 2019 to help pay our bills’

    – But a key contributor to paying off our bills are businesses that export 40% to the EU.

    The Conservative Party is meant to be pro business. By leaving the single market, we’ll be hurting many businesses here in the UK.

    Maybe Brexit is best overall, in the long-run (preferably, i think we need to try and reform the EU or at least remain in the single market but out of political union as much as is possible). But in order for anything as controversial and complicated (‘moon landing’) as Brexit to work, you need a strategy and a leader and you need to have all your bills paid off and economy built up to make up for all the short-term to medium-term instability you’re going to face as you re-jig your economy (not forgetting all the other pressing problems of the day—housing crisis for the young, socialists breathing down our necks, and so on)

    This is basic good sense, whether in business, the military or politics. And Shakespeare warned us what happens if we over-reach ourselves in ambition:

    ‘I have no spur
    To prick the sides of my intent, but only
    Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself,
    And falls on th’other. . . .’

    And the history books are littered with over-ambitious projects. Let’s try and prevent Brexit turning into some kind of South Sea Bubble.

    1. Mitchel
      October 9, 2017

      “And the history books are littered with over-ambitious projects”

      Quite so……the EU is one of them!

  42. Yossarion
    October 8, 2017

    John, I have cut and paste this , however if true, why do we need to pay the EU anything, their GDP was more than 3.5 Trillion in 2016 alone.
    Germany has illegally exceeded their positive trading surplus of a max 6% for the last 9 years, but despite this, the EU has yet to apply the prescribed fine of 1% if GDP.

    What does this tell us about their relationship with the EU ?

  43. Denis Cooper
    October 8, 2017

    Dearie me, Labour’s Emily Thornberry talking even more unbelievable rubbish:

    Reaching its pinnacle at 6 min 30 min onwards:

    “We cannot leave most of the European Union institutions”

    including the European Court of Justice.

    So according to Labour’s insane plan we will certainly leave the EU as per the referendum, but we cannot not leave EU institutions such as the ECJ.

    How is it possible that the government cannot thrash such a pathetic opposition?

    1. Denis Cooper
      October 8, 2017

      but we cannot leave EU institutions such as the ECJ

  44. British Spy
    October 8, 2017

    “The bad news is the weak productivity performance of the large public sector.”
    “The public sector does need a bit of extra spending and needs to help people work smarter.”

    Well you, I’m speaking generally of unproductive central Government, have already bribed Heads of Councils, their “Cabinets” and tiers of their relations and friends employed in useless positions with money well-beyond the share to an Anglo-Brazilian train robber. Also flattered them with knighthoods, MBEs ,OBEs, none of which any of them have earned unless you think derailing a mail train is a job well done. It hasn’t worked has it???!!!! They are still incompetent, downright lazy and bloody-minded and that’s just the best of them.

  45. ian
    October 8, 2017

    Also, businesses have the benefit of lower taxes from 27% to 19% as a payoff for their cooperation in these matters which could have been 12% by now if they had not started it with tony in the first place, mind you CEO pay has gone up by hundreds of % anyway.

  46. The Prangwizard
    October 8, 2017

    And the stupity of giving away 0.7% of our money in ouverseas aid, and the loss of wealth as the millions of foreigners remit probably about the same again back to their home countries.

    Does Mrs May and her government care? Do they hellaslike? Virtue signally on this massive scale is more up their street.

  47. ian
    October 8, 2017

    with shareholders left holding the baby while the boardrooms staff have already made off with the money ready for the next crash which will be coming in the 2020s sometime, aided and abetted by the gov.

  48. The Great Ear
    October 8, 2017

    I hear Theresa May is planning to sack Boris. He should cough more. It is like throwing the navigator out of the plane in the bombing of Dresden without him calculating in advance how to get back to Blighty. She’s not a patch on Kenneth More and even if she pinches her nostrils together it will make no difference when she demands of the navigator “Take us back home Ginger!” ( Boris is actually blond, it must be the fag smoke or flak smoke )

    1. Diogenes
      October 9, 2017

      By the way, there is no navigator on modern civil planes. So that might mean, no need for Boris.

      1. The Great Ear
        October 10, 2017

        I have been on that plane minus the navigator. I got back, eventually. I am British to the core.Still awaiting my luggage however

  49. Diogenes
    October 8, 2017

    I would urge anybody interested in this productivity numbers to read the original reports by the ONS and spend a little time getting familiar with the various categories. Not everything is as clear as JR’s “black hole”.

  50. NHSGP
    October 8, 2017

    I am not surprised they got the numbers wrong. They usually do get them wrong.

    So do you on the state’s debts. Pensions.

    The state claims IFRS is used to generate the Whole of Government Accounts

    It says pensions are not contingent liabilities but it cannot say what they are contingent on.

    IAS 37 says contingent liabilities are on the books.

    Not that you would believe me but you can check.

    Why would you not question fraudulent accounts?

  51. nigel seymour
    October 8, 2017

    Autumn Re-Shuffle

    Chancellor – Boris Johnson
    First Sec – Damian Greene
    Home Sec – Michael Gove
    Foreign Sec – Michael Fallon
    Defence Sec – Dominic Raab
    Health Sec – Jeremy Hunt
    Education Sec – Priti Patel
    Justice Sec – David Lidington
    Work & Pen Sec – David Gauke
    Transport Sec – Amber Rudd
    Culture MS Sec – Karen Bradley
    Local Comm Sec – Chris Grayling
    Business Energy Sec – Mark Harper
    International Dev Sec – Alistair Burt
    Dept EFRA Sec – George Eustice
    Dept Exiting EU Sec – David Davis
    International Trade Sec – Liam Fox
    Scottish Sec – David Mundell
    Welsh Sec – Alun Cairns
    NI Sec – James Brokenshire
    Chief Sec Treasury – Philip Hammond
    Leader HC – Nigel Adams
    Leader HL – Earl Howe
    Chief Whip – Gavin Williamson
    Att Gen – Robert Buckland
    Party Chairman – SirWilliam Cash

    1. Mitchel
      October 9, 2017

      I’ve long thought Jacob R-M would make a good Foreign Secretary.

  52. Mark B
    October 8, 2017

    Good evening

    Like so many it would be good if we actually had a Conservative government in office, then we could do some of the things suggested. But alas we have a party that wants to ape the former Blair governments. Do these people not know that the Blair years much followed Tory economic policy and benefited from it when they came to power ?

    Some people really do believe the myth that the Tory party is somehow the, Nasty Party when it is not. It is just the Labour government got lucky and played their hand well by actually aping the Tories and stealing the centre ground.

    What we want and what we need is more Conservatism.

    1. fedupsoutherner
      October 8, 2017

      Mark B

      I second that.

  53. Turboterrier.
    October 8, 2017

    @ nigel seymour

    How many of those named are remainers?

    We need new ideas and a real belief in what the country voted for. i would find places for the following:-

    David Davies Energy, Owen Patterson DEFRA, John Redwood Chancellor, Andrea Leadsom Transport, Jacob Rees Mogg International Dev.

    Show the country, world and EU that the government have the same song sheet and music.

  54. ian
    October 8, 2017

    Budget, if the gov can maintain 1.6% growth for the next three years they will do very well, overall 4.6 to 5 percent for the three years.

  55. lojolondon
    October 8, 2017

    John, The UK gains around 600,000 new people every year, many of them unskilled. So our companies do not hesitate to employ low-end workers, because they are cheaper than mechanising in many cases. This produces some interesting results – every year there are complaints about wage stagnation, especially at the lower end. Now complaints about our ‘stagnant productivity’. These are both clear and obvious results of the oversupply of cheap, unskilled labour, nothing else. I think it is dishonest that the MSM complain about these features of the current UK economy, without explaining the root cause.

  56. hans christian ivers
    October 9, 2017


    Why do you keep asking for a stop for payments to the EU in March 2019, when the government has already announced they will keep paying to the EU after March 2019?

    By the way the £ 9 billion net is about 1% of the government budget, how much difference would that make anyway?

    1. a-tracy
      October 10, 2017

      It’s a massive difference Hans otherwise why wouldn’t Germany be able to increase their contribution to NATO by “just 1%” to meet the obligations that other nations achieve.

  57. Lindsay McDougall
    October 11, 2017

    Let us indeed focus on public sector productivity – both at home and abroad.

    (1) The regulating body of the energy industry is not regulating well, if at all. So why not get rid of the regulators and shut the body down?

    (2) How many of the recent very expensive public inquiries delivered anything useful? After seven (?) years, Chilcot came to the conclusion that Tony Blair didn’t actually lie but was good at self deception and highly selective in his intelligence sources. Did we not already know that?

    (3) What useful output do the House of Lords Bishops produce? Archbishop Welbeck and his trendy opinions, perhaps.

    (4) What useful output does the Pope and his troop of celibate cardinals produce? Stupid rules on methods of contraception and a raging AIDS epidemic in the Philipines.

    (5) What is the point of OECD, the IMF etc etc?

    I could go on.

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