Yet again this savings figure of £6 billion is caught on the newswire this week. What a joke.
Our deficit is in the region of £167 billion. Trumpeting about saving £6 billion in a year is the fiscal equivalent of downgrading your weekly toilet paper and tea bag shopping to Tesco’s value range – all well and good but really a drop in the ocean. Let’s get our eye on the prize, the RIGHT prize.
The interest payment on this deficit is nearly £42 billion. On interest! That’s more than we spend on defence and more than three times our policing budget. We should all be praying to the house of credit that we don’t lose our AAA rating or we can add another £5 billion p.a. to our troubles. It’s starting to look like a Guy Ritchie movie, isn’t it?
The real issue is that after the longest period of consistent economic growth in our history – 16 years – we were spending 4.5% of our national income more than we raised in tax. You don’t need advanced math to know that puts you in the red.
Forget ring fencing, surely nothing is off the table. Scrutiny belongs everywhere, including our three largest areas of spending: social security, health and education. All budgets, from the Olympics to waste collections must come under microscope.
Our medicine will certainly be a bitter pill to swallow but Greece is the starkest warning to anyone who thinks simply muddling through is an option. Debt is a powder keg waiting for fireworks night.
With a new face in 11 Downing Street I was really hoping to hear a more honest fiscal message than £6 billion but I guess we’ll have to wait until the emergency budget. Emergency – what an understatement.