ONLINE ONLY: Translating the Autumn Statement
What was George Osborne really telling us?
Confused by high finance? Perplexed by the jargon? Fear not. I’m here to take the key phrases from George Osborne’s Autumn Statement and unpack their meaning so that you can learn all you need to know about the current state of the economy and what our leaders are doing to ease your pain.
“Turning back now would be a disaster.”Admitting we’re making a U-Turn would be a disaster. “The British economy is healing”The British economy is badly wounded. “The deficit has fallen by a quarter”I have missed my targets for reducing the deficit. “Now we are seen as one of the safe havens”The UK will lose its AAA rating next year. “Latest economic forecast”Optimistic guesswork. “Independent forecasts”Someone else’s optimistic guesswork. “I want to thank the Office for Budget Responsibility for their rigorous approach”Every one of their forecasts has been wrong. “The economy has ‘performed less strongly’ than expected.”OK, maybe hiking VAT was a mistake. “Credit rationing and impaired financial markets”And perhaps it was a daft idea to bash the banks, making it harder for them to lend. “Making banks contribute more”But since bankers are the only people more unpopular than me, of course I’ll keep bashing them. “Supportive monetary policy”Printing money. “Directly addressing the problems of tight credit”Printing more money. “Sensible cash management”Printing even more money, paying it back to ourselves and then fiddling the figures to cover up what we’ve done. “I want to make the figures completely transparent”I am changing the way I calculate my targets to make it harder to see I’ve missed them. “We have a better than 50% chance of eliminating the structural current deficit in five years’ time”We will not have eliminated the deficit in five years’ time. “We do not meet the supplementary objective”The National Debt will continue to rise. “We are not taking that road to ruin”We’re taking another road. “I’m switching current savings into capital”A small U-Turn — but old news. “Our country’s pension funds will launch their new independent infrastructure investment platform”A new quango that will let the Treasury raid your pension. “The replacement for the discredited PFI”We are re-naming the discredited PFI. “Savings from Whitehall are not enough to tackle our debts”The National Debt will continue to rise. “Fair share of taxes”Higher taxation. “Aggressive tax avoidance”Paying only tax you’re actually obliged to pay. “I want to help the great majority of savers”A minority of savers will get a real kicking.
“A welfare system that Britain can afford”A welfare system that Britain cannot afford. “We will apply a similar approach to the uprating of tax thresholds as we have to welfare.”Higher taxation. “Michael Heseltine’s report has captured the imagination of all political parties.”Michael Heseltine’s report is grandstanding self-publicity. “A single Office for Unconventional Gas”A new quango with a silly name. “Forcing energy companies to move families onto the lowest tariffs.”Cheap populism. “£10 billion worth of guarantees for housing”Cheap and irrelevant populism.
“No 3-pence fuel tax rise”Expensive populism. “We’re all in this together.”The National Debt will continue to rise.