Prosperity not austerity

Prosperity, not austerity, was my slogan for both the 2017 and 2019 elections. When it became clear Mrs May was going to keep Mr Hammond as Chancellor and allowed such a  negative approach from the Treasury and her top officials, I joined with others to replace her so I could advance the cause of Prosperity.

The new Prime Minister made clear his economic policy is the promotion of Growth and Opportunity. He has from the start injected a welcome optimism into the country’s view of our future. When his chosen Chancellor fell for Treasury pessimism and tax rises, he asked him to work using shared advisers with No 10. I think the PM was right. The Chancellor was unwilling so  had to resign. I think we will be better off now we have a new Chancellor who should understand what the PM is trying achieve.

One of the Chancellor’s  jobs is to tell Treasury officials that we want realistic optimism about the UK’s economic prospects, with an expansion minded budget which will boost our growth and improve our outlook. It was not a case of the outgoing Chancellor valiantly defending a Treasury orthodoxy that is right against a PM who wants too much expansion. It was a  Chancellor giving in to the excessive pessimism of the Treasury/Bank/OPBR that has fuelled so many bad and wrong forecasts from them since 2015. The new Chancellor needs to say that we have growth in  our own hands, and that whatever the outcome of trade talks with the EU the UK can have a good economic future if we take the correct decisions now.

In future blogs I will  be looking at the range of measures the government now needs to take to shake off the slow EU style growth rate we have sunk to, and to liberate damaged sectors that have been hit by too many taxes and wrong policies like housing, cars, general manufacturing  and retail.

The Bank of England too needs to work with the government on promoting growth. Inflation is below target and looks set to remain  weak for the time being, so the Bank should assist the drive for growth.

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162 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Some electric car “expert” on the BBC said the we all know “how cheap electric cars are to run” or similar. Looking at second hand electric ones for sale (even the cheapest models) the depreciation on them seems to average about £1 per mile. Buy for 30K drive 20k miles and then sell for £10K or less. Then you have the interest on the £30K, the electricity, the tyres, the charge point and maintenance, insurance. Perhaps working out at nearly £2 per mile.

    Or you can keep an old conventional car (mine families three are now worth rather less than £1,000 each) and then it might cost about 15p and be a far more flexible and safer car too and far cheaper to insure. Interestingly HMRC (generously) only let you claim 45p per mile on the first 10,000 business miles and 25p per mile on anything over this. Then they wonder why car sales are down!

    • Andy
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      Don’t worry old chap. New petrol cars are being banned in 2035. Old ones you can keep for now. How old will you be in 2035? Probably not driving anymore I’d guess.

      • steve
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

        Andy

        You’ll have a different tune to sing when it’s you who’s stuck somewhere waiting for your batteries to charge, and you’ll have something to moan about when fleeced by charging price cartel.

        ‘Experts’ will tell you something can be had for nothing. They’re lying, nature and the laws of physics say so.

        • L Jones
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

          Steve – but perhaps Andy doesn’t actually know where electricity comes from.

          As usual, though, a excuse for a deliberate attempt to be offensive from Andy – because he/she seems to believe growing old is a crime.

          (To be honest, I can’t understand why our host allows these shallow posts from her/him.)

        • Anonymous
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

          My reply was to Andy.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Why ban them? Difficult to believe that electric cars (doing only perhaps 40,000 miles typically over the cars life) save any CO2 at all after all the energy used to build them and generate the electricity to charge them.

        A hybrid that can just do the city bit on battery sounds far more sensible why are the government pushing them so?

      • NickC
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        Andy, What will you be powering your battery cars with? EU magic dust??

    • turboterrier
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic.

      Car depreciation and second hand resale value for electric cars. The latter ain’t going to happen. My friend told me that his new electric car needed a replacement battery which was under warrenty. The makers had to send down their specialist team to do the work asit has to be done in sterile condition whith loads of safety factors built into the changeover. He asked them about the cost had this happened outside warrenty. The cost of the battery to him £35K plus the labour. The battery cost was just under half of what he paid for ther vehicle. Surethere is going to be a second hand market for battery power. Add to which who is goung to pay for its disposal? Yes someone somewhere has really thought htis process through!!!

      • turboterrier
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        Sorrry for all the mistakes wrong glasses and trying to rush.

        The thing that comes out of my previous entry is that every EV should have the replacement battery costs taken into consideration when considering a second hand purchase. Could this mean that EVs become nothing more than a one trick/owner pony.

    • Otto
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      We don’t know what will happen in the future as, don’t forget, we will be in the EU till 20xx. Read the WA.

  2. SM
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    I very much hope that Chancellor Sunak will take the line of the Treasury co-operating with the Government, rather than setting up its own fiefdom – and yes, that applies to whichever Party is in Government, and whatever one thinks of Government decisions.

    According to some media accounts, Mr Javid had wanted his Dept to become the source of new ideas for running the country – what the Treasury should be doing, surely, is ensuring that the tax system is clear, honest and easy to understand, and that the spending taxpayers’ money is based on exactly the same principles.

    • Andy
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      You said Sunak. You meant Cummings.

      • steve
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        Exactly, Andy.

      • jerry
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        @Andy; Lets hope so, someone who has not been moulded by the Civil Service into their ways of doing politics!

        I suspect there might well be a few Civil Servants who are fearful of the future, jobs wise – unless they accept the new order, that the elected Government (and their SpAds, who in this instance we all knew about during the GE) govern and Civil Servants serve, the clue is in their names…

        • steve
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          @jerry

          Utter nonsense.

          • jerry
            Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

            @steve; So you think elections are pointless and that the unelected Civil Service should run the country, glad we have that sorted!…

      • Anonymous
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        I doubt you’ll be experiencing much of the latter, Andy.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    “The Papers” review programme on BBC last night turned into a “we love the BBC and the licence fee must stay love in” this from the presenter and both of the female reviewers. Not much balance or impartiality in this one sided discussion for sure.

    Clearly the licence fee is grossly unfair competition and should go, but that is far from the main problem with the BBC. It is their idiotic, anti-scientific, wrong headed, lefty, woke, PC, climate alarmist bias and their dimmish art graduate “group think” that is the real issue.

    They are a blatant left wing propaganda outfit. People do not want to be forced to pay them £150 especially just to have daft propaganda rammed down their throats. But most at the BBC cannot even see this? Did anyone listen to the pathetically woke Evan Davis interview of Harry Miller – absolutely typical of the anti-free speech BBC line. If it is not BBC PC think it must be a hate crime (especially if it is true and valid criticism).

    • steve
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic

      Another reason why I don’t fall for Boris’ baloney.

      Where’s the decriminalising of the licence fee then ? Oh wait a moment he can’t do that because it would be a victory against PC, now we can’t be having that can we.

      Boris Johnson will NOT go on the offensive against anything we elected him to abolish, He’s Dominic Cummings’ fist puppet so don’t expect him to think for himself.

      I saw right though Johnson when he sneaked off to his cosy soiree with Varadkar.

      • jerry
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        @steve; “I saw right though Johnson when he sneaked off to his cosy soiree with Varadkar.”

        Indeed, and 2+2=5…

        What utter nonsense, that’s a bit like someone saying they saw right trough Mrs T when she sneaked off to her cosy soiree with Mikhail Gorbachev (in 1984 & 1987), or any other (at the time) less than palatable world leaders, it is what both UK Monarchs and Prime Minsters have to do, like it or not!

        • NickC
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

          Jerry, Except that, I believe, Mrs T’s power resulted from her convictions, whereas Boris’s convictions result from his power. Is that too unkind? I hope so, for all our sakes.

          • jerry
            Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; I think you will find many examples of Mrs T’s policies being affected by her ‘power’ (large majority), especially between 1983 to 1987, rather than her modest convictions as stated in the party manifestos.

          • NickC
            Posted February 17, 2020 at 11:26 am | Permalink

            Jerry, You may find that but, as I said, I believe Mrs T’s power resulted from her convictions.

          • jerry
            Posted February 17, 2020 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; You need to read some historical facts, not project your opinions all the time, start by reading the Tory party manifesto for the GE of 1983 and then compare that with what polices were carried out.

            If Boris is being affected by a 80 seat majority you can be sure Mrs T was affected by one of 144…

        • steve
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

          jerry

          “like it or not!”

          ….and I choose not to, as is my right so like that or not mate.

          Remember that Varadkar represents a country that would benefit from ours being at disadvantage.

          PS have you not considered posting all your comments in caps?, you might as well.

          • jerry
            Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

            @steve; Your comment says far more about you than it does Boris!

            PS, have you ever thought to think before posting your comments…

    • jerry
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      @The BBC should be banned from doing news paper reviews, it is nothing but unpaid advertising for the commercial newsprint industry, along with the all to often media or political Love-in as you say.

      As I type this the BBC Andrew Marr show is on, complete with Paper review, that time should be used for an extra interview from a minister or at least MP – people who have been elected to share their opinions, change or reaffirm public opinion.

      “People do not want to be forced to pay them £150 especially just to have daft propaganda rammed down their throats.”

      But nor do people want to have to pay £720 pa, to “have daft propaganda rammed down their throat” either, as is the case with the main UK subscription based TV service, it is not just the BBC that needs reform. There is no reason why viewers could not be allowed to only pay for those channels they wish to watch, or at least genre’s, either via a subscription or on a PPV bases, the technology has been around for years.

      I note that Mr Whittingdale has been appointed a Minister of state at the DCMS, change is in the air by the looks of it, but will the DCMS be brave and face down the subscription services too…

  4. GilesB
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    With interest rates remaining low the government should be borrowing long-term for infrastructure that will help industry, primarily transport.

    Don’t just flood the banks with cash, there is no knowing where it will end up.

    Be careful with funding annual expenditure with borrowing: interest rates will rise at some time.

    Give more tax incentives, and grants, for commerce and industry to invest. The major reason UK productivity is declining is insufficient capital invested per worker in equipment, facilities and training.

    • NickC
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      GilesB, “The major reason UK productivity is declining is insufficient capital invested per worker …“. Just so. Plus we also need: cheap energy (shale gas); stable, simple, transparent laws; and no government wheezes.

  5. margaret
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    We need sensible growth which will reconnect with roots we already have. The last 40 years have produced fly by night private initiatives , wasted money by those who don’t have respect for our Country , NHS or laws. Today on Facebook a GP posted a photo of a pile of medications left by a UK visitor which amounted to £2,000. A Nurses salary for a month.
    General attitudes much change.We don’t want supermarkets full of plastic wrappings,we don’t want people tearing along our roads throwing out fag ends and take away wrappings out of their car windows. This sort of waste is a continuous downward spiral of ruinous habits which to correct have to be paid for . Instead of new build houses taking up more green space look at the foundations of houses where whole streets have been closed and windows blocked out and use those foundations to improve and renovate. I am not interested in the petty’ I am more important than you stance ‘ The results of a collaborative venture will help all. Freedom is not about the freedom to bring everyone down :this is bad spirit!

    • Andy
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      I have seen the post you mention on Facebook. It does not say the medication was ‘left by a UK visitor’. It says it was used by a ‘UK NHS patient who moved away’. The two are not the same thing. What your post here has now done has implied it is a foreigner – which stokes anger towards foreigners. In this case that anger may be completely unjustified.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

        The point is surely that this is what happens with free stuff.

        • jerry
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

          @SJS; Andy makes a valid point, we simply do not know why the person “moved away”, nor why they did not simply take their medicines with them [1], and as for your comment about ‘Free Stuff’, if the person was a UK tax payer, most are, it was not Free Stuff, any more than a private prescription paid for by a health insurance policy is.

          [1] they might well have moved into nursing care, perhaps closer to their children in another part of the country, if so their nursing home will now issue their medication at the required times.

      • Robert McDonald
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        “‘Deliberate’ use of the NHS—use by those who come here specifically to receive free treatment or who come for other reasons but take advantage of the system when they’re here—is hard to quantify. It’s thought to be very roughly between £110 million and £280 million a year.
        ‘Normal’ use of the NHS—by foreign visitors who’ve ended up being treated while in England—is estimated to cost about £1.8 billion a year.”
        Very little gets recovered thanks to lack of effort and traceability.
        c 2 billion spent by the NHS on non uk residents is a crime.

        • Everhopeful
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

          Absolutely agree.
          The NHS ( whatever “they” say) is effectively and without a doubt, an insurance plan.
          Although the socialist agenda was probably always to roll it out to all comers, “they” kept very quiet about it.
          There are now people who paid in all their lives and can not get to see a doctor or dentist.
          The original document made it quite clear….if you don’t pay …you don’t get treatment.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

          That is why everyone should pay at the time other than the few that really cannot. Visitors should have to insure.

          • jerry
            Posted February 16, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

            @LL; “That is why everyone should pay at the time”

            You mean pay twice, would you willingly pay twice for private medical care, once at the time of your renewal (or monthly plan) and again when you actually need to use their services – I bet you wouldn’t!

            “other than the few that really cannot.”

            How would that be decided, not by the use of the govt. benefits database, considering how many people, especially elderly, do not apply for benefits that are due to them, often appearing to have wealth due to being asset rich but are actually cash poor.

            The NHS is and has always been a universal service, open to all, it was always intended that there should be checks on none UK citizens using the service without paying but often hard choices have had to be made between funding back office or front line, restrictions on spending can be a double edged sword at time, a fails economy.

            “Visitors should have to insure.”

            As should all those UK expats in the EU27, but simply have been having their host country bill the NHS, or get on a cheap flight back to Blighty and walk into A&E clutching their UK passports even though it has been years since they paid any UK taxes.

        • NickC
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

          Robert M, The facts that you correctly cite are exactly what Andy was trying to hide.

        • L Jones
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          ”..2 billion spent by the NHS on non uk residents is a crime”

          It certainly is. And, since these costs are to treat non-UK people, why can’t it be transferred to the NHS from the Foreign Aid Budget?

      • margaret
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        Andy, stupid pedantry is displayed by your comment which attempts to take the argument on to a different topic . Your offensive lack of insight into the problem before use never ceases to amaze me . Your implication is what is in your mind.

        • margaret
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

          us i.e.

        • jerry
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          @margaret; But it was not “stupid pedantry”, when poor citation of the original comment totally changed the context and thus apparent thrust of the original remarks.

          • NickC
            Posted February 17, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

            Jerry, Stop assuming that if you don’t understand something then it is, pari passu, not understandable. I got what Margaret meant, even if you didn’t.

          • jerry
            Posted February 17, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

            @NickC, Unlike you, and all the other knee-jerking scapegoat finders, I’m not making any assumptions. There are many logical and uncontroversial explanations as to why medicines go to waste.

            If this was a migrant returning home, or moving on, if they the medicine had been prescribed for a necessary condition, why on earth would they abandon them. Do we even know what the medication was, if it was opioid based even a fully paid up British National would be unwise to take then to some countries.

            Try thinking the issue through, not just finding the first answer that fits your politics all the time! 😡

        • Andy
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

          It’s not pedantry. It’s accuracy. And accuracy matters.

          It is as likely to be an old person as a foreigner misusing medicines but you make the visitor connection. Why?

          As for those who mention foreigners being treated by the NHS. The NHS is perfectly entitled to charge them – and does in plenty of cases. An American friend of mine was literally asked to present his credit card at a London hospital before they would treat him after he was involved in an accident.

          But putting in place systems to charge people – invoicing clerks, credit control, payment officers etc – offends Conservatives who don’t like NHS bureaucracy. If you don’t allow the NHS to recruit the people it needs to charge foreigners don’t be upset when foreigners aren’t charged.
          Simples.

          • NickC
            Posted February 17, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

            Andy, “accuracy matters”! From you? Where are those 17.4m angry Tory pensioners then?

          • margaret
            Posted February 19, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

            Furthermore I am quite happy to facilitate a discussion between context and assumption and the language and tactics used to deviate and argument for the sake of a win ,myself having one of those worthless degrees in the philosophy of language.

        • margaret
          Posted February 19, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

          The main content of the medication was anti diabetic medicine which alone added to £1,500 along with other types of meds. What Andy was trying to do was take the argument in a direction which was about other than medicine waste . I also have a sneeky feeling that the GP who posted the photo was also trying hard to omit full information for fear of people like Andy jumping to find an excuse for waste, thus prevaricating important issues.
          BTW Andy I have never seen an accurate perspective from you yet .

    • jerry
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      @margaret; “General attitudes much change.We don’t want supermarkets full of plastic wrappings,we don’t want people tearing along our roads throwing out fag ends and take away wrappings out of their car windows.”

      Is that the Royal “We”, or just you projecting yours or someone else’s personal opinions (the MSMs perhaps), there is nothing wrong with plastic packaging, there was nothing wrong with plastic carry bags, there is nothing wrong with take-aways, the problem comes with what the end user does with the ‘waste’ – perhaps more street side waste bins, with them being regularly (daily) emptied.

      As for your comment on house building, Brown field sites are already high in the mix when it comes to new housing (even when the land would be more suitable to be kept for other use, such as industrial), but such sites are limited, even during the slum clearances it was usual for new build on green field sites and then redevelop the slum areas, either for more housing or other uses.

  6. Mark B
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    . . . so the Bank should assist the drive for growth.

    That sounds like a veiled threat to me.

    The BoE should be independent of government and should maintain sound money. If the government wants to splash the cash, then so be it, let it be on the governments head. Let government take responsibility for the consequences, that is why we voted to Leave the EU, to put you in charge and hold you responsible when things go wrong.

    The last thing we need to do is lower interest rates just to stimulate the economy. Interest rates are at an all time low and dropping them just for the sake of political convenience is not good governance. Governments needs to reduce its insane borrowing and spending plans. Cut back on its social programs and reduce taxes. More money in peoples hands over the long term will stimulate growth.

    Reply I am not asking for a rate cut. We need a Funding for lending scheme again.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      Sort out some real competition in banking 0.2 % on deposits and 40% on overdraft is a total racket. Actually encouraged by the dopes at FCA it seems.

      • Bob
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        “0.2 % on deposits and 40% on overdraft”

        I would like to know what Sir John thinks about this officially sanctioned racket.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

          78% at one bank!

        • JoolsB
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

          This Government is no better – 6 % on student debt.

        • gregory martin
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

          I am old enough to remember when as a saver one could join a mutual savings society, the amassed funds were then loaned to proven savers to enable them to purchase their first house at realistic rates of interest, being slightly above the rate credited to the saver. Strangely , these Building Societies were caused to permit commercial banks to buy out the savers, disrupting the savings habit and creating the near monopoly state of banking today. This has not been to the overall advantage to any except the bank shareholders. Can it be reconstructed as before?

      • jerry
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        @LL; 0.2% interest and 40% overdraft rates is the current economics of the free market, your capitalist instinct should know that, but then of course your capitalist instincts always appear to weaken when you come face to face with the cold hard facts of the “market”.

        Don’t like 40% interest on your (unapproved) overdraft then don’t go overdrawn, manage you money supply better, just as you have expected govts to do for the last few decades, only spend what you can afford, balance your incoming and outgoings…!

        • NickC
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

          Jerry, Except that many areas of the UK economy are not really a free market because the government interferes so much, and so arbitrarily. Three examples are: banking where the £ is a government monopoly, and the policy of the £’s use is set by the government; BEVs where the government has just up-ended LDV manufacture, the energy infrastructure and road transport; and housing which is swamped by government policies such as massive levels of immigration.

          In other words, don’t blame “the market” for the consequences of government stupidity.

        • Ian Wragg
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          This has been dictated by the FCA and Carney
          It’s Hammonds way of reducing credit to thwart Brexit.

        • steve
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

          @jerry

          “Don’t like 40% interest on your (unapproved) overdraft then don’t go overdrawn, manage your money supply better”

          …..and who are you to judge ?

          I fail to see how you can specifically advise anyone how to manage their finances when you are not engaged as their advisor.

          • jerry
            Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

            @steve; If you need a financial advisor to advise you not to take out an unauthorised overdraft, @40% interest, you are probably beyond help!

          • Lifelogic
            Posted February 17, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

            Non just unauthorised all overdrafts!

          • jerry
            Posted February 17, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

            @LL; So don’t use overdrafts, simple, no one is being forced to use banks in this way and 40% interest rates!

            Only spend what you can afford or raise money from other lenders, raise it via a re-mortgage perhaps, you keep implying you have plenty of property, heck you could always sell one or two if you’re that skint…

          • Bob
            Posted February 17, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

            I’m sure we’re all grateful to jerry for sharing his lack of experience in running a business.

          • jerry
            Posted February 18, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

            @Blob; I thank you for totally missing the issue here. There are other ways of raising, injecting, capital into a business.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

          Not it seem at branches of these UK banks outside the UK just a special treat exclusively for UK customers who bailed the banks out.

          Why would any sensible bank have one rate for low risk customers and the same one for very high risk ones? This is not the market it is the FCA rigging the market!

        • Edward2
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

          It isn’t a free market.
          Entry is complex and difficult.
          A few big names have a good deal of power in the existing marketplace.

  7. agricola
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I would like an optomistic positive approach, but I await the budget. We will then know if the plan is radical enough to achieve it. The creation of a working group to drastically simplify the tax system would be a good start because it is main battle plan to achieve what we desire. The removal of all the EU impositions would be a good first step. Watching Ed Balls travel around the EU has been revealing on the level of unrest that exists there. It all comes down to the failure of their financial management. He seemed shocked at how bad it was.

    I will judge matters on the reality of the rhetoric and the direction of intended travel.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      Very funny. The Office of Tax Simplification is an independent office of HM Treasury, part of the Government of the United Kingdom. The office was created on 20 July 2010 to identify areas where complexities in the tax system for both businesses and individual taxpayers can be reduced, and then to publish their findings for the Chancellor to consider ahead of his budget.

      Since then tax complexity and compliance costs has surely doubled at least.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:40 am | Permalink

        Doubtless the staff at the “Office for Tax Simplification” all got good bonuses for this great achievement?

      • agricola
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

        How can the OTS be independant and at the same time an office of the treasury and government. Independant is a small group of people who have expeienced our tax system, who are not overtly political, but understand the elements necessary to enhance individual, corporate, and national wealth, and understand the implications of such freedom. It would to a great extent reverse the current trend of ever increasing control.

      • agricola
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        How can the OTS be independant and at the same time an office of the treasury and government. Independant is a small group of people who have expeienced our tax system, who are not overtly political, but understand the elements necessary to enhance individual, corporate, and national wealth, and understand the implications of such freedom. It would to a great extent reverse the current trend of ever increasing control…..

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

          Two good general rules I find are that anything that claims to be “independent” almost never is (who appointed them and can fire them?) and anything that needs to call itself a “science” probably isn’t really a real science. Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy, Medicine, Genetics ….. but then we have Social Sciences, Christian Science and millions more.

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    So Boris has changed his mind on the mansion tax it seems. All he needs to do now is change his mind about HS2, the climate alarmism agenda, entrepreneurs relief, the planned pension raid, the daft subsidies for renewables and any other planned tax or red tape increases. We already have we have the highest taxes for over 40 years.

    The last thing we need is more tax increases or more tax complexity. We actually need massive tax cuts and cuts in the size of the largely hopeless over paid and pensioned state sector. Just undo all the damage that Brown, Darling, Osborne and Hammond did as a good first stage.

    It seems that in government ministers can be fired with a standard pay off and with no tribunal claims etc. Please can we have that everywhere, it would give a massive increase in productivity and efficiency if we can get rid of people not needed or wanted. In the state sector and the private sector. It would also release so many employment lawyers and the likes to get a productive job instead.

    • oldwulf
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic. Maybe HS2 north of Birmingham should be built in preference to HS2 south of Birmingham. It seems to me that HS2 south of Birmingham may bring Birmingham more into the London commuter belt. This might increase Birmingham house prices, although I suppose it may have the “advantage” of reducing the pressure on London house prices 🙂

    • Chris
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Agreed, Lifelogic: “So Boris has changed his mind on the mansion tax it seems. All he needs to do now is change his mind about HS2, the climate alarmism agenda….”. Don’t forget Huawei, as economic security is essential for national security.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 17, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

        Indeed Huawei to0!

    • Bob
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      “it would give a massive increase in productivity and efficiency if we can get rid of people not needed or wanted. In the state sector and the private sector. It would also release so many employment lawyers and the likes to get a productive job instead.”

      Hear hear to that. After two years service an employee becomes pretty much a fixture, and they know it, that’s when they put up their feet and just coast along waiting for the Chancellor to award them their next annual compulsory pay rise.

  9. oldtimer
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    When seeking the leadership of the Conservative party last summer, the PM deployed his bird metaphor. One beating wing, he said, supported public services the other wing an enterprise economy that provided the wealth that enabled those public services to be funded. So far his government appears to be flying on one wing with all the emphasis on spending. The forthcoming budget offers him his prime opportunity to reveal how the other wing will beat, how it will create the wealth that “levelling up” demands.

    His regime will not be helped by his obsession with “zero carbon” emissions or a transport minister who thinks the UK is already well served by its charging network.

    There are many critical reforms needed for an enterprise economy to flourish, not least concerning taxes and regulation. If these are reformed then the much talked of trade deals will pale into insignificance by comparison.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      In unrelated news, there’s a nice picture of the Chancellor’s mansion in today’s Sunday Times. More seriously, the rich already pay a fortune in income tax, NI, stamp duty and rates. There’s no need to impose another tax on them.

  10. Lifelogic
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    You say that – In future blogs I will be looking at the range of measures the government now needs to take to shake off the slow EU style growth rate we have sunk to, and to liberate damaged sectors that have been hit by too many taxes and wrong policies like housing, cars, general manufacturing and retail.

    Good. We also have a bonkers energy policy, endless attacks on the self employed, restrictive and damaging employment laws. The last few governments seem to have had, as their main objective an agenda of creating endless parasitic not jobs for lawyers, accountants, tax specialists, bureaucrats, compliance officials and the likes. Roll this all back. Start with May’s idiotic gender pay reporting lunacy, the attacks on the self employed and the idiotic the work place pensions.

  11. Andy
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Interestingly, economists have analysed their growth forecasts – to see how well (or badly) they forecast the impact of your Brexit.

    They mostly forecast that the economy would continue to grow – which it has. They also mostly predicted that it would grow more slowly – which it also has.

    The OBR’s predictions were wrong. They were actually too optimistic about post-Brexit Britain – saying it would grow by 5.3% in the years after the referendum. It actually grew by 4.9%. The average forecast was 4.4%. So, actually – many of the forecasts were pretty accurate.

    But, hey, I know it makes you feel better to pretend that they were all wrong when, actually, it turns out that you are.

    Reply The official forecast for the first two years after the vote predicted recession and massive job losses which was entirely wrong

    • margaret howard
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply

      So how many job losses have there been so far?

      • NickC
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        Margaret, Number employed in the UK Oct 2015 = 31.42m. Number employed in the UK July 2019 = 32.78m. All ONS figures, made on the same basis.

      • Edward2
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        None
        Employment has increased.
        Unemployment has reduced.9

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted February 17, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          If a thousand microbiologist posts are lost, and a thousand shelf-stacker jobs created, then jobs have both been lost and created.

          They are not equivalent, and only a complete fool would attempt to make them so.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 17, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

            So now the usual red herring from you Martin.
            The claim was jobs were lost due to Brexit.
            When that was proved to be wrong you chirp up with the quality of jobs argument.
            Just made up.
            No data.
            No facts.
            Just a “what if” statement made up on the spot.
            And dreadfully sneering and snobby too.
            To get a job stacking shelves is a proud achievement for some people previously unemployed.
            Decent wages coming in and a good chance to progress.

    • Robert McDonald
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Good to read how economists eventually got it right about the economy. Maybe if they had been more accurate pre referendum then more than the 52% wise enough to disregard their prophecies would have voted to leave. Good Heavens, even Mark Carney is pronouncing the good news about UK’s future post EU, following the accuracy of his previous that could concern me !!!!!

      • Gremilgob
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        Don’t trust an economist who hasn’t made at least £2m personally – in cash.

    • Gremilgob
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      It’s OUR Brexit.

      All eligible voters are responsible for a voting outcome. Especially those who stayed at home. They all pledged to abide by the result.

      Only those who campaigned vociferously against the Referendum and then refused to partake in it can claim it is ‘your Brexit’.

      You are anti democratic … just like the EU.

    • Fred H
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      nice try Andy, never mind.

  12. David Joyce
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    The Treasury was always the beating heart of Project Fear. I hope the new Chancellor is the required stake.

  13. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    A bit more reasoned today, although the evidence for you or significant other numbers of Tory MPs trying to extract May and Hammond over 3 wasted years is scant. As the electorate we had Hobson’s choice in 2017-Tory MPs didn’t however-you as a group could have saved us those wasted years by putting somebody in place who would have transposed July 2019 back to July 2016.
    Now perhaps we have a team which finally delivers. Sunak seems a bright and reasonable man. So long as he remains his own man rather than the Treasury’s I suspect we’ll see the best budget since that first Thatcher budget given by Howe, which set the stall for the 80s.

  14. Jim
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Any fool can prop up the economy with spending, what counts is investment. But in what, that is the big question and the EU and everyone else has the same problem. From that it follows that any good business idea we come up with the EU and everyone else will copy it in a trice, and slap on a tariff.

    Then we might try to attract international companies here. The snag is we have a sclerotic planning system and an aversion to anything other than property development. A drag on our economy to start with, then of course the EU will be doing its best to lure those self-same international companies – without a tariff.

    We already have hints that HMG has belatedly discovered that there are few or no new benefits in whizzy new trade deals outside the EU. But any fool could have seen that years ago. Now we must assume that Sir John and friends are not fools and therefore must ask what they had in mind pushing Brexit so hard.

    As things stand Boris is doing a good job blowing smoke, but can he (and the Treasury) keep up the performance past December 2020. If not he will be remembered as Bankrupt Boris.

    • margaret
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      Exactly Jim ..

      • margaret
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        However you are making an assumption that trade will not continue with the EU and we will also not be in a position to stretch out and find new business . Whilst politicians and others argue about this and that people out there are working hard to create and grow .

        If all stay negative with everything, no growth will be possible. This blog site demonstrates how people try to put a spanner in the works for the sake of their own comfortable ego’s . John at least, even if he does not write it and perhaps he does not have the need to prove himself does not wallow in negativity .I am here to read John views as a proven politician.

    • Shirley
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      It always amazes me how non-EU countries manage to survive, and often do better than the inglorious EU! I assume they do not have defeatists at the helm, unlike the EU and many in the UK.

    • forthurst
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget the Tory Party’s brilliance at selling off our industrial heritage such ARM and Cobham and of course the benefactors who purchased these great British companies giving guarantees as to the continuance of employment here just like with Cadburys. This is the way to create greater GDP per capita in this country: sell off highly skilled businesses and international brands, import millions of unassimilable aliens and then build a few residential blocks in the capital to sell to Far Eastern investors. You don’t have to be unpatriotic to be a Tory, but it helps.

    • steve
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      Jim

      “If not he will be remembered as Bankrupt Boris.”

      We’ll have to see what the year brings. My bet is he’ll go down spectacularly as ‘con man’ or something of that nature.

      See what he does with fishing, stupid electric car policy etc.

      See if he sells NI out and uses our money for a bridge from there to EU member state Scotland.

      I think that while his election win was spectacular, so too will be his downfall.

      We elected him to deliver our Britain, not Boris’s piss weak Britain.

  15. jerry
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    “One of the Chancellor’s jobs is to tell Treasury officials that we want realistic optimism about the UK’s economic prospects, with an expansion minded budget which will boost our growth and improve our outlook.”

    But HMT and BoE both work within the prevailing political climate of the day, anyone who doubts that should have paid more attention back in 1979, 1997, and again in 2010 (even with nominal BoE’s independence)…

    So what is our host suggesting, that the political climate (within the Conservative party) has done an about turn, from the mantra of the last 40 years which brought us near constant govt spending cuts under Tory governments to one that expands spending to promote Growth and Opportunity.

    If so, whilst there might not be tax rises but there might not be tax cuts either, and of course a lot can be done with the Brexit dividend once fully out of the transition period & EU budgetary contributions.

    • jerry
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      OT; I hope the absurd idea of the PRC state railway being involved in building HS2 will not grow feet, never mind legs.

      Makes me wonder if this was the last Chancellor’s idea to keep costs down, perhaps someone in Downing Street has finally seen sense and put their foot down, but will we see any back tracking from Government regarding HS2 and 5G decisions, given that two of our most important post Brexit (RotW) alliances have shown much disquiet about the latter especially.

  16. Yorkie
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Mr Rishi Sunak, Brexiteer, is MP for Richmondn glorious Yorkshire so that’s one good mark in his favour. But he is a Hampshireman, specifically a Southamptonian which can only be a neutral feather in his cap from up here in Yorkshire at best. I suppose he’ll do. Will have to.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Yorkie,

      Apart from the psychopathic total power behaviour from the PM, stabbing the Lancashire born ex-Chancellor (in the side) can be interpreted in other narratives. One that I think is unarguable is the typical Tory habit of playing off the Midlands against the North – dump an experienced Midland Chancellor, replace him with an inexperienced Northern Chancellor. Another narrative is the dump the self-made man, replace with the privileged privately educated one. A frightening narrative, which I guess people are scared to acknowledge, is the cultural heritage swap. What the PM has done cannot and should not be read positively, whatever policies are followed.

      Dr Redwood need not be concerned with what the “new Chancellor needs to say” he will be instructed by the PM what he is to say – discussion, debate, feedback is gone. The PM’s position should be rationally strong enough to be tested against the Chancellor’s position, it shoild not be groupthink developed, but chosen on its merits.

      Still, in return the new Chancellor will not tax his mansion.

      Reply I do not have a mansion.

      • steve
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        JR

        “Reply I do not have a mansion.”

        I think you should have one.

        • Fred H
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

          Steve ….ha ha…..possibly a bit more worthy than most.

      • Fred H
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        Caterpillar,
        If you are going to use a title for our host, and he doesn’t mind actually, please use Sir. We may not agree with all his views, but afford him that respect.

        • Caterpillar
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

          Fred H,

          I do respect Sir John and asked him in a previous diary, after his award, how he would like to be addressed. He kindly indicated either or neither was O.K. as he was not changed as a person.

          I have used both, I do feel strange simply writing ‘John’, as others do.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply.

        Apologies for my poor English. The failed mansion quip was aimed at the Chancellor, as I suspect the opposition might do.

    • jerry
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      @Yorkie, The new Chancellor, being from Southampton, who’s grandparents emigrated to the UK in the 1960s, and by way of his own marriage, he is (or should be) fully aware of the important of non EU trade and business ties. Not to sure what benefits being an MP for North Yorkshire brings to the job, other than perhaps some quite thinking time back in the constituency?! 😀

      One thing he needs to look at for the budget is VAT, it is a blunt axe, being far to regressive, complex and often puts businesses off from expansion that would result in enforced VAT registration with all that involves in back-office time and expense.

  17. Alan Jutson
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    John.
    I see it is being reported that the Chinese are perhaps in talks with the Government about the construction of HS2, with a suggested time scale of 5 years instead of 25 or more for completion, and at a less expensive cost.

    Any truth in these reports, or is it all speculation and window dressing.

    An massively improved time scale and lower cost would certainly be optimistic, given the decision has now been taken to continue with this project.

    • Bob
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      It’s China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”.
      It was originally called the “Belt and Road Strategy”, but they decided to change it for some reason.

      • Mitchel
        Posted February 17, 2020 at 10:20 am | Permalink

        It was originally called “One Belt,One Road.”

        It now comprises many belts and roads,both on land and sea!

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Just viewed Marr.

      I see our Minister has accepted it will take a long time to build HS2 as it is a big project, and all big projects take a long time to build, he is going to instigate a long study to find out why !

      With this sort of thinking we have no hope of any improvement or change.
      Yet another study which will take years and years to report back instead of driving for improvement now !.

      Pathetic.

      The Chinese’s can build a 1000 bed hospital in 10 days, it takes us nearer to 10 years, and no lessons to be learnt, simply amazing.

      • APL
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        Alan Jutson; “The Chinese’s can build a 1000 bed hospital in 10 days, ”

        I see you’ve fallen for the BBC’s uncritical praise of its model society, totalitarianism.

        The 1000, bed hospital leaks, is unsanitary, and isn’t a hospital, it’s an isolation unit.

        • Alan Jutson
          Posted February 17, 2020 at 7:25 am | Permalink

          APL

          I absolutely agree 10 days is completely unrealistic here, but then so is our build time for most projects.

          But compare.

          How long does it take for the shell of a Hospital to be built in the UK.?

          I seem to recall the Japanese rebuilding a huge section of Motorway type road after an earthquake in 5 days, meanwhile it took us 3 years to put an extra lane on a section of the M3, so far 2 years of disruption on the M4.

          Closer to home France builds new roads much faster than us, and yes I know they have more room and less density of traffic, but the progress they make in a year puts our projects to shame.

          • APL
            Posted February 19, 2020 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

            “How long does it take for the shell of a Hospital to be built in the UK.?”

            The famous hospital the Chinese government build was built of prefabricated units. Probably wasn’t a hospital, rather an isolation unit for those already diagnosed.

            And reports out of China suggest the work was shoddy, the building leaks.

            But the BBC caravan has moved on, and they meekly accept the Chinese governments direction, that the latest story is elsewhere.

            Alan Jutson: “rebuilding a huge section of Motorway type road after an earthquake in 5 days, meanwhile it took us 3 years to put an extra lane on a section of the M3,”

            I think you’ll appreciate, there is a difference between restoring service to a route while there is no traffic at all – the thing was destroyed during an earthquake, and constructing an additional lane on a busy road like the M3 with as minimal disruption as possible?

          • APL
            Posted February 19, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

            Alan Jutson: “France ….. but the progress they make in a year puts our projects to shame.”

            We still have the quaint notion of private property. Yer can’t just roll over someone’s home because some crackpot loonie in Westminster wants to score a few % in the polls by boasting about increasing spending.

            Once all the planning consents have been obtained, the civil engineering part – the business end of any construction project – is, in the UK usually done in an extremely competent, efficient and honest manner.

      • SM
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

        I do wish people would stop quoting the apparent Chinese ability to build a large hospital in 10 days…do you seriously imagine it’s going to be anything other than a very large container with a few basic necessities?

        If you think this ‘miracle’ building is going to have operating theatres, pharmacies, consulting rooms, therapy rooms, x-ray and full scanning machines, renal and radiology units set up by the end of February, I think you are being naive.

        • APL
          Posted February 19, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

          SM: “If you think this ‘miracle’ building …”

          The BBC breathlessly lauds the Chinese government, after all, it the sort of regime the BBC would love us to be living under.

          The ‘miracle’ building, leaks, not just the odd drip either. But you have to go to Youtube for that information, not the BBC.

          The BBC doesn’t wax on and on and on for days about the miracle of the complete apartment block that fell over. It didn’t collapse, it fell over, because the Chinese construction company hadn’t built the foundations correctly.

      • Fred H
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        Why not consider the Chinese to build the northern sections, starting soon as possible. A little competition would be interesting while we watch the expensive snails dream up excuses.

      • Dennis
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Grant also said the Chinese are out re HS2 ‘cos of differing laws etc. Why should that be? Marr didn’t ask.

    • graham1946
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      The govt won’t take it anyway, even if it wasn’t the Chinese. If the thing was to get done in 5 years, it would simply expose the true lack of value within the lifetime of the govt, assuming it got another term, which it undoubtedly will with the poor offer for an opposition. They would like to light the blue touch paper and be safely retired before the public realise they have been shafted yet again.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      The Chinese built the Tanzam railway in the 70s. It has been a complete failure and every single item was imported from China incuding food and barrack type accommodation.
      Not a single local contractor was used and all the money went to China. Then there was the ongoing extortionate cost of spare parts.

  18. Dave
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    The only thing government can do to encourage real growth is less. Less tax, less regulation and less stupid white elephant projects like HS2. Of course if they actually did that there is the danger that people might realise what a counter productive thing government really is.

  19. Kevin
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    You mention the Funding for Lending scheme again on this page today. After this scheme was launched in August 2012, it was claimed that it had an immediate and devastating impact on the savings market by allowing banks to ignore the latter, borrowing cheaply from the BoE instead. In other words, as I understand it, it meant that the banks could obtain “created money” from the BoE instead of paying a market rate for savers’ hard-earned nest eggs. Can the Conservative Party comment on these claims?

    • acorn
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      Kevin, I doubt you could find a Conservative Party MP who has the first idea how the Funding for Lending Scheme works! It was the most elegant of “off balance sheet” bank funding scams ever invented by Treasury techies, smoke and mirrors par excellence.

      And yes; it did significantly reduce the need for commercial banks to attract “equity reserves” by offering higher interest rates on retail customers’ deposits. All now publicly documented.

      BTW; banks don’t lend retail customers’ deposits, the latter become “equity reserves” for the banks, in case there is a run on a bank for some reason (think Northern Rock). That’s why the government insures up to £85,000 of your “investment” in any one bank group; otherwise you would get shafted like other ordinary shareholders. (Thanks for call H.)

  20. Dave Andrews
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Prosperity, not austerity. Great – can I have some my way please?
    Income tax at 20%, employee’s NI at 12%, employer’s NI at 13.8%, then VAT at 20% doesn’t look like prosperity to me, it’s more like austerity.
    Prosperity for the individual is a good idea. Austerity for the government is also a good idea, but not practised for two decades with spending outstripping tax receipts.

    • glen cullen
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      I agree with your assessment…the tax system is killing small businesses

    • Fred H
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      and Fuel tax, BBC tax, tax on pension when you get it, tax on death, inheritance…..

  21. JoolsB
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    John,
    The mantra coming out of this new Government is that they want to see a levelling up of funding across ‘the country’. Does this mean funding within England or does it mean England’s funding will be levelled up to that of the rest of the UK? Despite being the only net contributor to the UK coffers, as you know, England receives much less of it’s own money per head than the rest of the UK via the skewed Barnett Formula so does this levelling up mean you and your colleagues with English seats will be demanding the latter or will we see a continuation of them all staying stum as they do now when it comes to a fair deal for England?

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Jowls yes it would be nice for us in England to be treated as equals.

  22. oldwulf
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    The lives of plebs such as me are affected by local government as much as they are by central government. Sometimes more so.

    What help and guidance does the Treasury provide to Local Authorities. Also, what “control” does the Treasury have, after all, Local Councillors have the power to tax, borrow and spend.

    • glen cullen
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      There are 408 councils thoughout the UK and they’re all reporting a budget deficit circa £3.2bn……so to fix all councils it will cost £3.2bn….lets spend it on HS2 instead

      • oldwulf
        Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

        Hi Glen. Personally, I would not want the central government taxpayer to bail out the local government taxpayer, in the way you suggest.

        I would want someone to oversee local government budgets, particularly for development projects where they may lack expertise and where there is little direct accountability. From what I can see, these projects have a habit of going wrong, which then leads to higher local taxes and borrowing and diverts money way from socially important matters.

        • glen cullen
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

          While I agree with your sentiment the point of my post was that for 3% of the projected cost of HS2 we could fund all the councils

  23. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    To be honest Sir John, they don’t need to drive growth, they just need to stop stopping it. That would be a turnaround!

  24. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Sir John, I welcome your optimism. Just for clarity how much (either in real terms or as a percentage of GDP) is an acceptable amount to be borrowing?

    What is your priority if we have to choose, investment in infrastructure or investment in tax cuts?

    Reply We can do both and need to do both. Borrowing levels depend on the volume of good projects to be financed and the possible returns.

    • glen cullen
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      current borrowing circa £25bn…..how about just living within our means

  25. Ian Wragg
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Did you read the article on lf driving cars. Apparently the technology will never replace the human brain.
    Now they’re concentrating on pilotless planes as the next big hoax.

  26. Richard1
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I suggest a major simplification of the tax system. Despite 10 yrs of – sort of – Conservative govt, the tax code has increased inexorably and the tax take at 38% of GDP is as high as it’s been since Thatchers reforms started to take effect. A good new ‘golden rule’ for Richi Sunak could be to re-introduce Nigel Lawson’s objective of abolishing a tax with each budget.

    I accept we’re going to have to spend some more money – that promise is the price of not having had the Corbyn- McDonnell economic armageddon. But let’s as far as possible make sure it isn’t wasted. HS2 does not sound promising but let’s see. The focus must be relentless on making the UK the most attractive destination in Europe for investment and entrepreneurship. We are a long way from that now. Boris has one shot. We need demonstrable success by 2024. Some things can still be work in progress of course at that point, 2028/29 will be the real test date, but let’s not blow it.

  27. The PrangWizard
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Not content with actively encouraging the selling of major companies of ours, often with brand names and products going back many decades, as well as fixed assets, to foreign buyers, government is now actively encouraging an unfriendly regime to think it can build a major railway system here. Does this get approval because it is ‘prosperity’ I wonder? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that this is tantamount to prostituting the nation. Our leaders have no concept of national pride, integrity and self reliance. Making a big deal of drinking English sparkling wine at a ‘bash’ is not enough.

    Sadly they are not listening – they just do not believe there is a problem.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      I think Boris was very keen on having closer ties to China even when he was mayor of London. Reopening The Great Silk Road and all that.
      Never have understood why this country believes so firmly in the skills of others while steadfastly refusing to train and employ its own people.
      The eternal search for lower unit costs…whatever the price?

  28. Everhopeful
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    The Treasury, firmly rooted in its Victorian origins and the associated culture of economic prudence had become too powerful.
    For whatever reason it appeared to play a huge part in Project Fear and had it not been for the likes of JR would we even be this far down the road of leaving the EU?
    Perhaps the Treasury was using its time-honoured thrift and frugality as camouflage for political motives? Whatever the reason those opposing both the Tory govt and Brexit picked up “ austerity” and ran with it, undermining both democracy and government.
    The PM has to remain the most powerful minister..or how can government achieve its aims?

  29. Iago
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Off topic, Dominic Raab’s corona virus piece in the Sunday Telegraph behind a paywall (if you delight in incandescent rage, this will provide it) contains these sinister words “a sure sign of the instinctive cooperation we will continue with our European friends.” I wonder is it EU policy to allow direct flights from China to continue and is that why we are doing the same? Whether this is the case or not, this failure to stop flights is a sure sign we scrotes, just like our referendum votes to leave, are expendable.

  30. John S
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    If we want to boost growth, in order to help finance tax cuts, ministers need to grasp the nettle and make determined efforts to make the public sector more efficient. Many public sector employees see their departments as exercises in job creation. These needs to be curtailed.

  31. NickC
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    JR, It is unlikely that the UK economy will grow if the government tries to pick winners. HS2, banning fracking for natural gas, and battery cars (BEVs) are three sure fire losers that will drag our economy down.

    • glen cullen
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      Almost everyone thinks the same aparts from the government

  32. DOMINIC
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    OFCOM and online censorship. Why? When will this spread ‘offline’ censorship?

    What is ‘harm’? Who decides? What are their names and who and what political organisations do they represent?

    Why is the UK morphing into a nation whose people are treated like criminals by the authorities for expressing valid opinions?

    Why are Tory MPs silent on the creeping and sinister rise of all forms of censor, monitoring and demonisation of British citizens?

  33. Mark
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    If we are to have sustainable growth it is important that investments have positive returns. Otherwise you might as well burn £5 notes to keep warm. Projects like HS2 and zero carbon are massively loss making, and will drive the economy into penury. Keynes may have recommended digging a hole in the road, and Boris has decided to keep digging. Start by filling the potholes and continue by repatriating industries we have sold to China.

    We are about to get an interesting lesson in our China dependence. I see that the supply chain from there is emptying rapidly because of corona virus shutdowns in their economy. That will result in shortages here in a matter of weeks.

    • Mitchel
      Posted February 17, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Yesterday on Business New Europe:

      “Fiat halts production at Serbian plant as coronavirus disrupts supply chain.”

      First European plant to shut.

  34. DennisA
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    There will be no prosperity as long as they pursue the green fantasy.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 17, 2020 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      Indeed.

  35. John E
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I rather fear that the coming Budget will be overshadowed by the economic impact of the novel Coronavirus outbreak. The last goods that shipped from China before the Lunar New Year will be arriving at the end of this month or beginning of March.
    At that point people will realise how very dependant we have made ourselves on Chinese factories.

  36. steve
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Prangwizard

    “Sadly they are not listening – they just do not believe there is a problem.”

    Ah but you see the trick nowadays is not to eliminate a problem, but to leave it in place and use it to political advantage, or just plain old greedy profit.

    “Our leaders have no concept of national pride, integrity and self reliance”

    They do, but seeing as they don’t work for us what else can you expect but selling off, pimping out, and good old fashioned betrayal.

  37. DOMINIC
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    China, why? The US and Australia, our brethren and kin in arms, offended. Why? Why China? Marxist. Despotic. Anti-democratic. Anti-libertarian. Why China? I don’t get it. What’s the score?

    Is this some pathetic Anti-Trump virtue signalling decision by the Foreign Office to continue its offensive against the greatest western leader since FDR

  38. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    So an ex-minister has said the party will never forgive Boris if he goes for a hard Brexit. Sod the party. What about what the electorate want. I don’t know anyone who wants to be dictated to by the EU over trade and fisHong rights. Just leave. The country will not forgive him otherwise.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 17, 2020 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      Indeed but I suspect Boris will not deliver a real Brexit. He has already made some very bad decisions on HS2, falling for the absurd climate alarmist agenda and on Huawei. Why on earth are the Cambridge Police not acting against the moronic environmental criminal vandals attacking Trinity College lawn today?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 17, 2020 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

        Even, it seems allowing Javid and the treasury to actively consider a mansions tax and further raids on private pensions.

      • rose
        Posted February 18, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        It could be because the Met were taken to court for policing the same mob in London and lost. We will now be liable for the millions in compensation. The judge said it had been a real pleasure dealing with the miscreants. Also the College sounded as if it didn’t want the police to take preventative action. Just like the Cathedrals during the first incarnation of this mob, Occupy.

        With woke dons on the one hand and bent judges on the other, you can’t easily blame the police for standing by.

  39. Jasper
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    Not on the subject so apologies but will you please ask whoever looks at legislation to reconsider the high income child benefit charge. How is it economically fair for a married couple where one of them does not work and the other who earns over £60k to lose the child benefit versus the scenario of a couple who both earn £49k so total household income £98k can claim it. This is not about me as much to my annoyance I lost it in 2013-14 when the new legislation was brought in!! I have never understood the fairness of this discrepancy.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 17, 2020 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      Indeed and the same for personal allowances that are lost at 100K+. But not if two people earn £99.9K each.

  40. bill brown
    Posted February 17, 2020 at 2:32 am | Permalink

    Sir JR,

    An interesting analysis and I look forward to reading your propositions for the budget.

    I am sure expansion is the right way forward as long as we do not reach American deficit targets which are far too high.

    On EU style growth rates, yes the average EU growth rate was low last year, but more than 60% of the EU countries had higher growth rates than the UK, including northern European counties like Denmark at 2%

    • Edward2
      Posted February 17, 2020 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      Not much is it bill.
      Denmark 2%…
      Does it make up for the dreadful austerity, low growth and high unemployment in many other EU nations ?
      You pro EU fans think if an EU member is doing well it is all due to the EU.
      But if an EU member is doing badly then it is all their own stupid fault.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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