Bright Blue – “A missed opportunity”
“Taken together, the package doesn’t go far enough in matching the welcome rhetoric of Theresa May’s Government to better support those on modest incomes. This last Autumn Statement was a missed opportunity. The Chancellor could have maintained fiscal discipline but shifted spending priorities to help those ‘just about managing’ much more. And considering the economic storm clouds are gathering, he could and should have been bolder to improve business confidence.” – Ryan Shorthouse, Director.
The Centre for Policy Studies – Worrying levels of debt
“The Statement’s focus on boosting productivity – particularly through the promotion of infrastructure and housing – is also welcome. However, the Chancellor simply announced further borrowing for investment. Although modest compared to Labour plans, this is a concern given that the debt to GDP ratio is set to reach 90 per cent. There were also no measures put forward to improve the quality of infrastructure or to reduce regulatory burdens that are constraining housing supply. This was a major missed opportunity.” – Daniel Mahoney, Head of Economic Research
Centre for Social Justice – Universal Credit change welcome
“We are deeply encouraged that the Government is investing more into Universal Credit, to the tune of around £1 billion. The CSJ designed Universal Credit to ensure that work always pays. Universal Credit is proven to work, helping more people into work, stay in work longer and earn more. Lowering the ‘taper rate’ from 65 per cent to 63 per cent is effectively giving 3 million people on low wages a two per cent tax cut. By choosing to invest in Universal Credit, the Government will ensure people are better off in work than on benefits. This is a positive first step in the right direction and we encourage the Government to continue to invest in Universal Credit in the future.”
Institute of Economic Affairs – Hammond “has abandoned any attempt to balance the books”
“This was a thin and fiddly statement, so it’s a relief that the Chancellor has found one area of government activity to cut in abolishing the Autumn Statement. Sadly though, he has abandoned any attempt to balance the books. Over the next five years the Government will be adding over £233 billion to the national debt, as much as the entire annual welfare bill. Fiscal rules to this government sadly seem to be no more than vague aspirations which are abandoned with impunity. On the upside, the Chancellor does seem to realise, however, that there’s no need to implement policy for the sake of it. A boring budget statement is better than a gimmicky one.”
Taxpayers’ Alliance – “Spending has barely been trimmed”
“Despite the incessant talk of austerity in the last six years, the truth is that spending has barely been trimmed. The Chancellor’s decision to slow the pace of deficit reduction means that we will run into two decades of living beyond our means, which is a frightening prospect. If economic headwinds are so turbulent that the Chancellor felt he had no other choice, then he should have delivered a major package of tax cuts to ease the pressure on families and business, not made new spending pledges with money we simply don’t have. As hard-pressed taxpayers struggle under rising bills, politicians continue to ignore the staggering levels of debt we’re passing on to our children through irresponsible spending and a failure to find necessary savings.” – John O’Connell, Chief Executive.