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Roger Bootle, Former Tory Economic Adviser, Criticises Osborne's 'Weak Budget'

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Osborne's plans for growth have been dismissed as
Osborne's plans for growth have been dismissed as "rather weak".

The Chancellor's plans for economic recovery have been dismissed as "rather weak", by one of the City's top economists.

The government has placed a drive for growth as central to achieving an economic recovery. The Chancellor hailed his latest Budget as a "budget for growth".

Roger Bootle, from Capital Economics, told MPs of his doubts about the government's plans.

"They have belatedly a plan for growth, which seems to have died a bit of a death. I don't think they're seriously interested in it. There isn't a degree of political will behind it."

Under the previous Conservative government of John Major, Bootle was appointed one of the Chancellor’s panel of economic forecasters, the so-called “Wise Men”.

Speaking to the Treasury Committee, he told MPs that from his discussions with civil servants, he found that the government's plan for growth was regarded more as "something for George Osborne to put into a speech".

"I don't think they're very advanced in thinking about a number of these plans" he added.

Bootle expressed scepticism about the government"s "rather weak" economic plans. He highlighted the need to reform labour laws, claiming that the government had done "next to nothing" to change them.

The government should pursue deeper cuts in tax and spending, Bootle told MPs. However, he lamented, they have not gone far enough as they've been held back by "political problems".

"We could grow much further, much faster" he said.

The Chancellor was urged to be more decisive by the other economists alongside Bootle. Brian Hillier, from Societe Generale, called for "boldness" on infrastructure investment.

"We're going to see low growth for some years. The Chancellor is a little too hung on on fiscal neutrality... [I think] the markets would be forgiving of [an extra] 2 or 3bn here or there." he added.

Jonathan Portes, from NIESR, was fiercely critical of the Chancellor's economic plans. He described the coalition's approach as the "Macbeth argument... where you're steeped in blood in so far, you can't go back."

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