Just hours before Osborne unveils his new Budget, it’s safe to say that the coalition has missed this chance. Encouraging employment figures aside, this is far from the robust recovery Brits were hoping for. Osborne has also failed to deliver on his promise to consolidate the UK’s finances. Instead, he has helped turn “austerity” into a bad word.
First, the problem with his cuts is that there aren’t enough of them. According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, total government spending will increase from £690.9bn in 2011–2012 to £731bn in 2014–2015 and then to £755.1bn in 2016–2017. Although these are nominal figures, it’s hardly the savage contraction depicted by some critics of the government. The deficit is also rising. In 2011-12, the government borrowed £121.6bn, or 8 per cent of GDP. Once one‐off factors have been removed, the underlying deficit is up this year.