Thursday, 5 December 2013

Autumn Statement 2013: Evaluating Osborne ... 15% successful!

Are the austerians right and the opponents of austerity proved wrong? Is Osborne's strategy vindicated?

Let's judge by his own standards. In June 2010, just as the ink had dried on the coalition agreement, George Osborne rushed to the House of Commons to deliver an 'Emergency Budget'.
"It supports a strong enterprise-led recovery. It rewards work. And it protects the most vulnerable in our society. Yes it is tough; but it is also fair."
With this rhetoric, Osborne opened his remarks. But the devil was in the detail of the accompanying forecasts. So how has he done 3 years on? We evaluate:

Osborne predicted that economic growth would be 2.8% this year - a target he may get close to (we'll find out next month), but that was on the back on growth of 2.8% last year as well (instead, in 2012 the economy grew by just 0.2%). The OBR predicts that growth will be 1.4% in 2013 (but this is still an underestimate)

Far from being back on track, the UK economy still lags 2.5% below where we were in 2008. So at best half marks for Osborne on economic growth. And that's before we factor in growing concerns about the sustainability of George's recovery. Half marks.
  • Economic growth 0.5/1
That same June 2010 forecast predicted that average wage growth in 2013/14 would be 4.9%. With average wage 'growth' currently at just 0.7% there is no gentle way to put this, that was woefully wrong.

While this year the FTSE100 directors will see their seven-figure salaries increase by an average of 14%, for the rest of us there is no recovery. People's incomes have been cut in real terms. The ONS points out that the median household income has dropped 6.4% for working age households over the last five years. Fail.

  • Wages 0/1
Unemployment has declined marginally in recent months, but is still high at 7.6% of the economically active population. That figure however conceals stubbornly high youth unemployment and long-term unemployment - failed by shambolic government programmes.

In 2010, Osborne told us unemployment would today be just 6.8%. So 250,000 fewer people should be unemployed today had Osborne hit his target. Fail.
  • Unemployment 0/1
Given Osborne erroneously said he would deal with "our country's record debts" (they were nowhere near record levels) with austerity, one would assume he would have at least had some success in reducing our debt (or at least stemmed the rate of rising debt).

By now, predicted Osborne in 2010, our debt should be 73.7% of GDP. Instead it's 75.5%.

But much of that is because GDP is far lower than predicted, so not even half marks for getting close, so quarter marks.
  • Debt 0.25/1
The reason the Chancellor is not reducing the debt, is because the deficit has not been closed at anything like the rate he predicted. By now the deficit should have been just 5% of GDP. Today Osborne announced it would be 6.8%. In cash terms they predicted £63 billion in 2010, but today it's £111bn - 75% higher than the 2010 forecast. So he'll borrow £198 billion more than he planned. Fail.
  • Deficit 0/1

Overall 0.75 out of 5 (or 15%)

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