Ex-Treasury aide rates Budget as bold and opportunistic

9 Jul 15

Former Treasury special adviser Julia Goldsworthy told CIPFA conference that the chancellor had delivered a ‘bold’ Budget, focusing on his key themes of lower taxes, lower welfare and higher pay.

Julia Goldsworthy

Julia Goldsworthy said the chancellor had delivered a bold Budget

Goldsworthy, a Liberal Democrat MP until 2010, said ‘you have to admire Osborne for his opportunism’ in announcing a National Living Wage that ‘feels very much like Miliband’s pre-distribution’.  Everyone had expected a true, blue Tory Budget, ‘but this was a giant rabbit out of the hat.’

She noted that the chancellor had smoothed the rollercoaster effect of planned spending cuts by extending the timescale for achieving a budget surplus, although the detail would only become clear in the autumn Spending Review.

But the impact on local government and public services of the cuts to tax credits, Housing Benefit and social housing were yet to be quantified. The regional effect on budgets and jobs of the proposed living wage was also a concern.

Goldsworthy expressed some surprise that less was said than anticipated in the Budget about decentralisation and extending the Northern Powerhouse concept to other cities. She suggested that this content had been ‘toned down at the last minute’.

In the same session, Centre for Policy Studies research fellow, Michael Johnson, cast doubt on the chancellor’s claims regarding deficit reduction.

According to Treasury Whole of Government Accounts, the gap between the nation’s assets and liabilities grew by 51% in the five years to end-March 2014, he said, suggesting that ‘if the country was a corporation, we would be long bust.’

Much of the problem was down to unsustainable demands on the Exchequer from pension payments, Johnson said, arguing that these and other benefits privileged retired, asset-rich baby boomers over younger generations.

An end to the ‘triple lock’ on pensions, and an Office for Inter-Generational Responsibility were amongst the measures he proposed to address this issue.

Did you enjoy this article?