Ignore the trade unions, George Osborne – you’re still not cutting enough

Welfare spending is set to rise and rise in cash terms: this Chancellor is no thrift-crazed axeman

When Scrooge saw the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come he was mortified, as the phantom scattered “gloom and mystery” with a hellish premonition of the miser’s future. A Christmas Carol was first published in 1843 and, I’m delighted to report, solid progress on many social issues has been made since then. Some things, however, never change.

willpenny: How on earth can any Government  [let alone ours]   be taken seriously in its pleas for prudent house-keeping and the need for cuts in welfare, whilst almost in the same breath it announces its intention to give away… ''11,000,000,000 pounds in foreign-aid''…??? Am I missing something… or perchance, strayed into a parallel universe where 2+2 no longer equals 4…? Just what is this: Some perverse game of ''Fiscal Musical Chairs'' and each successive Government praying that the music doesn't stop. Meanwhile…! back in the real world, the debt keeps piling-up whilst we juggle inflation and promissory notes for some distant future date, and hope, that this house of fiscal cards doesn't come tumbling down and consume us all,  [don't bet on it]…! £11,000,000,000 in Foreign-Aid eh'…   ?And our Money? Well…! either I've strayed into a parallel universe or the Government has.

Catstop Thespam: agreed… we have NO say on where our own money is going. until that changes there will be constant debt rising due to the corruption taking place within the current system we have.

maverick01: The answer willpenny is simple and straightforward and that is to replicate Sweden's statute where their governments/politicians simply aren't allowed to have a deficit.  Spending future tax payers money is far too easy when politicians are never accountable for the country's credit card bill and the majority would struggle to manage a primary school tuck shop let alone the country's finances.  

willpenny: Well…! 'maverick', there certainly, ''at the very least'', needs to be a realistic and responsible cap on National debt. For at the moment we live in an age of ''fiscal-fashion-speak'' otherwise known as ''Bankers-Bullshit''.  And in reality, in spite of the official line, there is still an enormous amount of debt out there. Now, they can dress it up all they want: But there is no such thing as a ''free-lunch'': Except in a mouse-trap…! And sooner or later…?

willpenny: Not quite sure just how Jeff Randall balances these two statements…? 1/ Politically the Chancellor is in a terrible place: successfully portrayed by critics as a thrift-crazed axeman, chopping his way to national calamity, when, in truth, government spending is set to rise as a percentage of GDP next year, its cash outlay will be about £45 billion higher than this year’s, and national debt is on course to hit £1.53 trillion by 2017-18, 50 per cent more than in 2011-12. 2/ What is more, Britain is not over a fiscal cliff. It’s not even on the edge. The implication, I presume, is that a forecast figure in 2017  of                            ?…£1,530,000,000,000…?                   of National debt is not a cause for concern. Well…! if a figure of   ''£1,530,000,000,000''   of debt doesn't concern Jeff Randall or the Government:          ''Then I dread to think what figure would concern them''. 

uberwest: The US is on the edge of a fiscal cliff because government spending is too high AND because republican senators have (sensibly enough) refused to increase the deficit. Here government spending is too high but no one can stop Osbrowne increasing the deficit. Which will make our own fiscal cliff all the greater when it happens, but it is not yet imminent.

Titus__Pullo: Sadly it's not even our money he's giving away in foreign aid. While we're running and deficit and borrowing hundreds of billion of Pounds he's giving away money our kids will have to pay back with interest. It's their money.

bartsimpson: Don't forget the £3,000,000,000 a year for the BBC propaganda machine.

michaelindeutschland:  why do the Unions not cry about this ? and why do they not ask why is the UK in the EU, which is costing 6 % of GDP for no discernible benfits The people who claim to be helping the most, are the most destructive it was always thus…

Petra Thompson: "why do the Unions not cry about this ?" The trade unions and the Labour Party were opposed to the EEC.  But once the EEC/EU started to pass "social(ist) legislation", the left in Britain warmed to the EU. The big question, is why we have the EU when we have GATT?  Why do we have immigration into the EU, when there are supposed to be tariffs against imported goods e.g. foreign labour.  If every company that brought in a foreign worker had had to stump up a £1million deposit, we would not have seen immigrants coming in and depressing the wages for our workers. For all the claims of the Tories to be "conservatives" they are not.  They are social democrats.  As are Labour and LibDem.  We have a one-party state.

lacoste: Cameron is addicted to spending our money to make him (the PR obsessive) 'look good' and feel good.   It would make him feel so much better if he spent his own money to achieve this end. He is a self-serving man of low intelligence and poor judgement; it is high that time he was ditched by his peers - or they will all be out of a job.

jon03: Young Gideon hoped to make his mark by doing the easy bits while letting growth sort the hard bits. But whadya know? It hasn't worked. So now he's stuck with the difficult stuff. And he's not up to it.

MrVeryAngry: Let's look at a simple example of profligacy.  Radical simplification of the tax code would mean you could sack 80% (probably) of HMRC people (I can't call them 'workers' because they aren't).  Such a move would also make redundant lots of tax 'experts, and you'd still collect all the tax you need.  Ipso fatso 80% of HMRC staff are already on benefits.

loftybill: It's probably cheaper to give them benefits than to employ them as all the money in both cases comes from tax receipts so yes a win win situation.

wibbling: The problem (as I see it) is that instead of a government we have career politicians. The decisions that need to be made may seem 'ruthless' (lifting people out of the welfare trap into work being one comical example) but they are easy to do. The trouble is the unions and left will scream as loudly as possible. Every oafish Toynbee whelp lookalike will wail endlessly about 'cuts' that potentially harm their own vested interests. There's also the depressing fact that Labour put everyone it could on benefits. Instead of the simple, sane thing such as combining NI and income tax and hefting the threshold to £12,000 it instead devised a system of devilish malice. Labour increased the tax take from the very poorest, created a monstrous bureaucracy to shuffle acres of forms around and gave a tiny fraction of what a chap had earned back to him - then hiked fuel taxes and council tax to take it away again. The problem is obvious. The solutions trivial. They are, however, political gelignite that Osbourne, a bottom covering, cowering politician before anything else will never, ever touch. This leaves us with edge fiddling and, as has been proved; that's not enough.

Titus__Pullo: Well put. Until the malevolent redistribution policies enacted by Gordon Brown are repealed there will be no progress away from the socialist settlement he sought to impose. Brown attempted to create a permanent Labour government through engineering a client state where the majority became vassals to the state through employment or the benefits system. The existence of the coalition government is testimony to the fact that the worst prime minister in over a hundred years nearly succeeded.

kennethes: The decisions that need to be made may seem 'ruthless' (lifting people out of the welfare trap into work being one comical example) but they are easy to do. It is a chicken and egg situations, bloody hard to get the unemployed into jobs when there are not the jobs available in the private sector. Creating state paid jobs is merely fudging the problem not solving it. All the new jobs seem to be taken by new arrivals from Eastern Europe, so these useless politicians have to solve that problem first.

panzergeneral: There are plenty of jobs - they are just taken  by immigrants.

japt: "There are plenty of jobs - they are just taken  by immigrants." But what you forgot to say was that no employer with any sense is going to recruit foreign workers if they are quite simply crap - whether they would be cheaper to hire or not.  What does that tell you about the work ethic and employability of many (not all) of the natives?

Mark Moore: Of course the new jobs are taken by immigrants. A £6.19 an hour job is worth £6.19 to an immigrant. Because of the various benefit withdrawal rates, that same job is often barely worth £1 an hour to a UK national. At those rates, the majority of applicants will be immigrants, and so the majority of those getting the jobs will be immigrants.