Budget Bingo: Predicting Osborne’s Key Words

What key phrases will Chancellor George Osborne use in this last Budget before the General Election?

Sky News’ Economics Editor Ed Conway and Political Editor FaisalIslam give their predictions in Budget Bingo.

Why not play along by marking which phrases Mr Osbornedelivers.

ED CONWAY:

:: Long term economic plan

Maybe you’ve heard this one before once or twice? It’s the Chancellor’s favourite buzzphrase, already in regular use in the election campaign. The implication, of course, is that while the Government has a plan, none of its rivals do.

Interestingly, it’s officially a Government slogan, not merely a Tory one. Expect it to figure repeatedly, and not just from the Chancellor.

:: Fastest growing economy in the G7

If you look solely at full-year growth last year, Britain was indeed, the fastest-growing economy in the group of seven leading industrialised nations (Britain’s 2.7% growth just outpaced Canada’s 2.6% and America’s 2.4%).

Expect the Chancellor to make much of this in his Budget speech – even if the UK looks like it will be overtaken by the US again this year.

:: Northern powerhouse

The Chancellor’s latest big plan is to attempt to improve growth and economic standards in the North with a host of policies, including investment plans and a new high speed rail scheme.

The policy is designed to counter perennial accusations that the Conservatives are perfectly happy with income and regional inequality, which is higher in the UK than almost any other country in the developed world.

:: Employment rate has never been higher

The performance of the labour market has been one of the most extraordinary features of Britain’s economic recovery. Last month the Office for National Statistics reported that the proportion of people in work had never been higher, hitting 73.2% in July to September of 2014.

There is even a chance that the rate rises beyond that – though there are legitimate questions over how much the employment rate has been boosted by part-time and self-employed workers.

:: We’re coming after tax evaders

Another policy designed to underline the fairness agenda: the Chancellor has repeatedly promised to levy new tax rules to clamp down on companies such as Google and Starbucks which have been accused of legally avoiding taxes in the UK.

He has also pledged to clamp down on those illegally evading tax – such as people secretly stashing away money in offshore bank accounts. Expect more measures this time around – whether they succeed in raising much money is another question.

FAISAL ISLAM:

:: Competence not chaos

The single “strapline” that permeated, percolates and unites all of the Conservative campaign message. It is meant to mark a contrast between the Conservative and Labour leaders and their philosophies.

Almost every Conservative attack on Ed Miliband contains the word “chaos”, and then “utter chaos”. It enables Mr Osborne to connect a future of Labour minority requiring SNP support, with Labour’s record in office ahead of the crisis.

:: Finish the job

It’s the classic incumbent offer to the electorate, designed to turn voter inertia and risk aversion into votes. It worked for Barack Obama in 2012. It didn’t work for Gordon Brown in 2010, but may have helped Labour limit its losses.

It requires, in this instance, Mr Osborne to offer sunlit uplands after a tough half decade,

:: Rebalancing

This is one of the sunlit uplands that Mr Osborne can offer. It also reflects badly on Labour’s record in office.

It means an economy that is better balanced geographically (see Northern Powerhouse, HS2), between the public and private sectors, and between finance and the “real economy”. Mr Cameron promised it early on. It is yet to be fully delivered.

:: Record low inflation

It is a fact that helps neutralise the Labour successful attack on “living standards”. Inflation, our measure of the cost of living, is at a record low of 0.3%.

This is driven by drops in the oil price that are passing through to petrol and energy prices. It’s also a stroke of luck as it is determined by factors way out of Mr Osborne’s control.

:: Alex Salmond

Not an MP (yet), but, hopes Mr Osborne, a lingering presence costing Mr Miliband dozens of seats in Scotland, and helping turn voters of Labour in England. He has almost no relevance to the Budget, but it will be telling that he is mentioned.

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17 March 2015 | 6:35 pm – Source: orange.co.uk

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