Some thoughts on the Budget
22 Apr 2009
There was one specific item I was looking out for in the Budget, which was the future of the new building at Andover College, and the related investment in Sparsholt College.
The college had been told by the Learning and Skills Council that it could go ahead with a major investment programme worth over £30 million pounds. But due to some serious mistakes by the LSC with its budget, along with other colleges, Andover was then told in March that the programme was frozen. Up and down the country, colleges are facing real problems - some had signed contracts, others had borrowed in anticipation of approval.
A few weeks ago, some irate MP's held a debate and the Minister had a bad time. I had hoped the Chancellor would find the money to re-instate the programme, but there was no mention of this in the speech, so I assume there is still no deal.
(I have now gone through the bundle of budget documents - and there is an extra £300m for the LSC's capital programme. This is a fraction of what is needed to release all the schemes that are frozen, but it gives a glimmer of hope)

More generally, it struck me as astonishing that the Chancellor was predicting growth of 3.5% in 2011. No one would be happier than I if that were achieved, but it is very optimistic and, if it is wrong, than the borrowing figures will be even worse.
The Chancellor described the worst recession, fastest rising unemployment, and the worst public finances since the War, but I wonder if he came up with the right solution.

And the borrowing figures, which the Chancellor read out rather quickly are staggering. Over the next two years the Government will borrow £348bn - more than all governments up to 1997. We will be borrowing £703bn over the next five years – £269bn more than the £434bn in the Pre Budget report in November last year. Our children will be paying this off for years to come.

And while the Chancellor implied that only the better off will be hit, the fact is that anyone who drives, smokes or drinks will be paying more tonight - and the taxes are likely to go on rising. There will be a £1000 tax rise on every family over the next two years

I welcome the modest incentives to save - but those who have retired and are not on pensioner credit will not gain very much. And I am dubious about the car scrappage scheme. At the moment, you can get a £2000 discount on a new car. Without any scrappage scheme. When the pnter goes to the dealer with his £2000 voucher, what will happen to the discounts currently on offer?


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