22 August 2012

The do nothing chancellor

After the latest reverse in the government finances, there are growing signs that - if Osborne recognises his economic plans (such as they are) are failing - he really has very little idea of how to rectify matters.  The Guardian reports on the headless chickens:
The government is to unveil a series of measures to promote jobs and growth as ministers move to show they have a credible economic strategy after a slump in corporate tax receipts led to higher than expected borrowing last month.
Amid growing fears among senior figures in both coalition parties that George Osborne is running out of time to meet his pledge to stabilise the public finances, Whitehall sources spoke of a co-ordinated growth push across the government in September. There will be a particular focus on liberalising planning laws, guaranteeing more housebuilding and boosting infrastructure projects.
In a sign of the government's radical thinking, ministers are drawing up plans to reform the Highways Agency so it can borrow money to pay for a "horizon shift" in spending on roads to boost the economy and reduce congestion and delays.
All very well but it needed to have been done eighteen months ago.  As it is, liberalising planning laws will by definition require new legislation, as will borrowing powers for the Highways Agency, so any effect on the ground will have to wait until 2014 at the earliest.  Infrastructure projects also require time for preparation.  As for housebuilding, private housebuilders are in no rush to commit themselves in the present financial climate, while the public sector knows the financial folly of building new houses only to have to sell them to tenants at a massive discount. 


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