In 2013, the government deficit, according to the latest available Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, was £92.9billion, which was 5.8% of GDP. All our major political parties are fixated on getting this deficit down by cutting expenditure and raising taxes. But should they be quite so determined to do so? Is austerity really the best way to cut the deficit?
Miliband is certainly an intellectual full of ideas and a clever strategist. But Osborne has proved himself to be an equally powerful intellectual, better at gaming strategy. Labour could outwit Tory strategists. Instead of fielding Miliband in a 'presidential style' election, it could play the party instead as a collegium.
Pension relief is one of the most common (and government-sanctioned ways) to avoid tax. Limiting it (especially if other exemptions and loopholes were also altered) could lead to further knock on gains for the public purse as higher earners find fewer simple ways to avoid taxation at their disposal.
In his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor is claiming vindication for his economic strategy, saying that it has put Britain back on the road to economic recovery. However, while it does appear to be the case that the economy is recovering again, this is in spite of his economic policies, not because of them.
George Osborne's speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester dealt with themes we have come to expect from him: an emphasis on fiscal discipline and assurances that he is on the side of aspirational, "hard-working" people the length of the country. There were, however, also features we haven't heard before...
Better ways of working would save the average employee five productive hours a week, which works out, in average salary terms, to around £4,200 per employee per year. Employers would also save £650 per employee on the cost of the desk space they occupy, and £100 on printing. The country as a whole would gain £6.9billion year in working hours gained.
The first substantive line of George Osborne's budget speech was: "We've now cut the deficit not by a quarter, but by a third". This might be surprising to anybody who read my earlier blog here, which pointed out that the deficit had (measured on a rolling twelve- month basis) been rising, not falling, for the last year or so.