Aunt Austerity isn’t back – she never went away

In one of my first blogs I described Aunt Austerity. Like an embarrassing but infectiously addictive maiden aunt, Aunt Austerity can be described as dangerous and necessary in equal measures. She’s the family member who has probably outstayed her welcome by now and even when she leaves, you know she’ll be back…

Well as I read that early blog back this week, it looks as though she didn’t leave at all. She merely went shopping with her equally unpredictable friends – for the purpose of this blog let’s refer to said friends as ‘Deirdre Deficit’ and her very unpredictable pal, ‘Bridget Brexit’.

And wow have they been busy! They have managed to get themselves into a bit of a pickle, got themselves embroiled in some unseemly arguments with their family and friends but seem to have kept themselves on our TV screens and in our press.

Can austerity continue?

There were recently questions over Austerity. Will it continue, can it continue? Has moving the end date for balancing the books meant its gone? Nope. One thing is for sure, we still have a deficit, cuts will continue, but will cuts be as dramatic as the one’s we’ve seen over the past few years?

So the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, talked recently of restoring ‘fiscal discipline’ and he admitted that Deirdre, sorry, the deficit, remains ‘unstable’. Although he slackened targeting a surplus at the end of this Parliament, the global movements since he spoke may mean he will have another think. He may even have been heard muttering about that annoying Bridget, and I don’t think he meant Ms Jones. As a sensible chap, he quietly but firmly confirmed that the task of fiscal consolidation must continue.

Whilst there was no specific mention of the public sector, the Autumn statement may well be the time he sets out his plans for that. I predict the three outrageous relatives will have had a ball by that time. And may even have had a party and broken all his plates by then.

So while cousin George Osborne’s deficit strategy was squashed and there was less talk of ‘austerity’ don’t get too complacent. Aunt Austerity’s visit is still upon us. She seems to have run up a bill at the local fried chicken shop of some £1.6 trillion – lets hope that her appetite wanes and some pressure can be be taken off public services at some point soon.

The Chancellor finished his address with “At the Autumn Statement in November I will set out our plan to deliver long-term fiscal sustainability.” If he seemed to have a lot of work to do immediately after uttering those word, boy has he got even more to do after the last week or two.

So no real answers as yet to how long Aunt Austerity, Deirdre Deficit and Bridget Brexit will be making a noise in your spare bedroom. Sounds to me as though it’s going to be an extended stay. Maybe you need to think about building that extension you’ve always promised yourself!

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