As feared, Brown's tenth budget will burn even more cash. According to his speech* the worst of the news is:
- 2012 Olympics- another £500m public money to payroll athletes. This is an initial salami slice of the likely £15-50 bn Olympics bill (see previous blogs here and here)
- £30bn asset sales- including the Tote and Westinghouse. Highly likely to be underpriced just like Qinetiq (see previous blog); also increases the £1.3 trillion public sector net indebtedness already hung round the necks of taxpayers (previous blog here)
- £7.5bn on failing Skills Industry- he says "each college will make a step change in employer involvement so that we can better match the demand for skills to the courses on offer"; we say it will never work- the public sector skills industry is an unwanted and costly dud (see this blog)
- "Additional £1.5 billion pa invested in scientific discovery"- Gordo has chucked billions at measures to stimulate R&D, yet all he has achieved is a collapse in private sector R&D- ie the stuff that's actually likely to yield a return
- Gershon "Efficiency" programme- Brown claimed a further £2bn of savings, but there was no solid supporting evidence, and as we all now know, such "savings" are actually no more than a PR stunt/sad delusion (see here). Even worse, he's now promising yet further "savings" beyond 2008
And as was widely observed, the new soft focus smiley Chancellor made absolutely no mention of the NHS and all its squandered billions.
* All our figures are lifted straight from the Chancellor's speech. In an honest world we would of course be able to link back straightforwardly to the detail in the accompanying Budget Report. But Brown's budgets have always been dizzying constructs of smoke and mirrors, and this one's no different. After several hours fumbling through the usual dense cloud of "budgeting regime changes" and other definitional obfuscations, we gave up for health and safety reasons. I think we all get the message: tax and waste will go on getting worse.