When is a budget not a budget? The answer is when it does not address the elephant in the room. Whilst Chancellor Darling has tinkered with a few figures, he has failed to address the cause of the recession, the banks.
As Caroline Lucas, Green Party Leader commented:
"This budget is a missed opportunity to put fairness and sustainability at the centre of Britain's recovery plans. After 13 years of a Labour government, this country is more unequal today than it was when Labour came to power. Bold measures are needed, like the higher rate of 50% on incomes above £100 000 per year, abolishing the upper limit on NI contributions, and reinstating the 10p tax band. While we welcome the introduction of a green investment bank, it lacks sufficient resources to create the huge number of jobs that should be at the heart of this approach."
As a former city worker myself, I believe that having nationalised the commercial banks, the Government then stupidly allowed the bankers to pay themselves massive bonuses generated by the Government’s short-sighted policy of “quantitative easing” (printing money to you and me). In casino banking terms making money off QE was a dead cert.
As Green Guru and Green Party Candidate for Cambridge, Tony Juniper wrote in the Independent: "The Chancellor could have acted unilaterally to introduce a Tobin-style tax on international currency transactions, instead of hiding behind the countries which don't want to do it. Reckless bankers have taken so much out of our economy, and it is the poorer people who will feel the most pain in putting it right."
The only real solution Darling proposed for cutting costs was to reduce inefficiencies like cutting the level of sickness in nurses. Who was to provide this miracle cure was not specified, but I'm sure a lot of over-worked nurses would be grateful to know what it is!.
There is scope for savings in the Health Service. Bureaucratic management has doubled since Labour came to power, whereas their productivity has decreased.Taking management and accounting in the NHS back to basics will save thousands of administration jobs, who then could be redeployed to do something more useful.
There is also a very simple way to cut Local Government costs. Look on any Local Authority web site and try and work out what the Chief Executive does. Launching initiatives and giving awards seems to be the sum total of their labours. Yet Local Government Chief Executives have doubled their pay since Labour came to power. So, Alistair Darling, a quick win would be to sack every Local Authority Chief Executive in the country, thereby saving half a billion pounds and hand power back to elected councillors.