19 Mar 2014

Budget 2014 – it’s all politics

“It is completely political,” someone with knowledge of the budget told me. The “surprise” being mooted this morning sounds like it could be a crowd-pleasing Tory pledge on personal taxation for 2015, not necessarily a costed coalition commitment.


The Lib Dems are signed up for the welfare cap on non-automatic stabiliser elements of the welfare budget. That could make uncomfortable reading for some Lib Dems who don’t see the world as Danny Alexander does. They will have the zero tax threshold hike to console them but the distributional graph for the latest lift there might not look like a super progressive use of scarce cash.

As has been well trailed, the chancellor will do more to “re-balance” the economy. Friends say he had a “lightbulb” moment on his China trip when he realised that for all his earlier talk of everything humming along nicely, in fact the economy was showing signs of the wrong type of growth, not re-balancing and exports not being at the centre of the picture.

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