Osborne adopts Plan A minus

Comment on today's Autumn Statement

Commenting on today’s Autumn statement, Mark Littlewood, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“George Osborne is operating in difficult economic circumstances, but this is still a disappointing response. He has effectively ditched Plan A and embraced Plan A minus.

“He is not sticking to his deficit reduction policy. He is sticking to his spending policy. There’s a world of difference. The initial plan was to add £260bn to the national debt between now and the next election. That has now spiralled to £350bn.

“If growth and tax receipts are less impressive than initially thought, there needs to be a corresponding reduction in state spending. But the only major spending cut spelt out today – a reduction in the retirement age – doesn’t kick in until 2026.

“Additionally, upgrading many welfare benefits by a full 5.2% while wages remain flat will not help to incentivise people to enter the workforce.

“The Chancellor conceded that a possible recession in the eurozone could further worsen economic conditions here, but did not signal a readiness to introduce deeper cuts in spending should this occur. It will be difficult for him to retain his hard-earned credibility in the markets should he fail to indicate that further reductions in spending may be necessary.”

Prof. Philip Booth, Editorial Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“The facts have changed but the policies have not. Despite the deterioration in the economic o