In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Evan Davis and Emily Maitlis, incluing an examination of the Budget.
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He made us laugh...
I did take the precaution
of asking my right honourable friend
to bring a packet of cough
sweets, just in case.
He made us cry...
Regrettably, our productivity
performance continues to disappoint.
But did he do enough
for the country?
It's been a ragged old few
weeks for the government,
at a difficult time for the country.
Budget day is the big chance
for Chancellors to show they've
got a grip on things.
With some serious economic
downgrades, we'll ask
where the budget leaves us.
We have our home team
of specialist correspondents.
We'll hear from the
Government Treasury team,
as well as the opposition.
We'll digest the day
with our panel of commentators.
And we're all here in Bury
to bring you the first focus
group since the Chancellor
made that budget speech.
What do they think of
what he's offering today?
The budget headline: Britain isn't
quite the strong economy
we'd hoped or thought.
And that's official.
The sixth biggest economy
in the world, the Chancellor
told us, not the fifth
as it is often described.
Our new budget forecasts predict
growth over the next five
years to be lacklustre.
Less than 2% all the way.
Pathetic is a term
that comes to mind.
Not that you would have thought
so from the early paragraphs
of Philip Hammond's speech,
with an upbeat description
of Britain's ability
to benefit from the white heat
of a new technology revolution.
For the first time in decades
Britain is genuinely
at the forefront of this
Not just in our universities
and research institutes,
but this time in the commercial
development labs of our great
companies and on factory floors
and business parks across this land.
But we must invest to secure that
bright future for Britain.
And at this budget,
that is what we choose to do.
Well, park that thought,
because we soon had to get
into the nitty gritty.
And two big things stuck out for me.
First, that low growth.
It's all about productivity,
the amount we produce
for an hour of work.
In the past, productivity tended
to go up as we get better at things.
But look here at the graph -
when the financial crash came,
it fell right back.
And for years now, the OBR have been
forecasting that it'll bounce back.
These are the last few forecasts.
But actual productivity
So now they've scaled
back the forecast.
And from that, all other
bad news follows.
Borrowing, for example,
is not coming down nearly as fast
as the Chancellor wanted.
And this is not just
a temporary recession either.
Nor is this Brexit -
that could still muck everything up
as the forecast assumes it
goes fairly smoothly.
No, this is a downgrading
of our economic potential.
The productivity bounceback
is like an awkward date -
you wait for them to show up
at the restaurant,
after ten years you decide
they are probably not coming.
The OBR has assumed at each
of the last 16 fiscal events that
productivity growth would return
to its pre-crisis trend
of about 2% a year, but it has
remained stubbornly flat.
So today they revise down
the outlook for productivity growth,
and GDP growth across
the forecast period.
That line was more important
than everything else
in the speech combined.
But a second striking feature
of this budget concerns public
spending and austerity.
After the last six elections,
we've had big tax rises to pay
for extra public spending.
Not this time.
An historic shift.
And yet, we still have spending cuts
baked in to our plans,
Sizeable spending cuts.
Here's the graph.
Per capita spending on government
services from 2015 to 2022.
So is this really do-able?
Today the Chancellor bunged some
billions into the public sector
to ease the pain in the next couple
of years but he's still
budgeting on pain later.
Well, that's two big themes.
There's a lot more to talk about,
notably three billion for Brexit
and lots on housing.
But here's Nick Watt
with his take on the day.
We have known him as spreadsheet
Phil, the cautious and rather dull
guardian of the nation's
But after that hammering
at the general election, did the new
step onto the stage?
The Chancellor unveiled
what the Treasury billed an extra 25
billion in spending and in easing
of taxes over the next five years.
This has been
a wretched year for the
government after Theresa May lost
her parliamentary majority in June.
The Tories were deeply unsettled
by Labour success in winning over
younger voters who believed
austerity had had itS day.
And then there are
the warring Brexit
factions who are overshadowing the
work of this government and putting
one minister in the firing line.
So today Philip Hammond
needed to reset
the dial for the Tories
by reasserting his own authority and
making clear he hears that cry
of frustration in June.
We are listening and we understand
the frustration of
families where real incomes
are under pressure,
so at this budget we
choose a balanced approach.
Yes, maintaining fiscal
we at last see our debt peaking.
Continuing to invest in the skills
and infrastructure that will support
the jobs of the future.
Building the homes that
will make good on our
promise to the next generation.
Jeremy Corbyn thought
the budget had failed
its first test, improving
lives of ordinary people.
about the crisis facing
our public services and complacent
about the reality of daily life for
millions of people in this country.
Entirely out of touch with that
reality of life for millions.
While this had the
trappings of a normal
budget day, there
was a different feel.
The Chancellor's team were very keen
to talk up the extra
spending and in language that
would have been unthinkable until
relatively recently they talked
about fiscal loosening.
So is this Chancellor
really turning the taps?
Well, the answer
to that in the words
of Evelyn Waugh is up to a
point, Lord Copper.
This budget does mark a limited
net giveaway to help
the economy after the dramatic
downgrade in growth forecasts with
measures such as the abolition
of stamp duty for most first-time
But then take aways are pencilled
in for the early part of
The big news in the budget
was really the first few
minutes when he explained
that the growth forecasts had been
It has massive knock-on
implications, far less government
revenue, higher public borrowing
and a decline in people's living
standards beyond what they were led
to expect before the election.
That is £700 a head
at the end of the
There was a mixed reception
amongst Tory MPs.
Some were a little
underwhelmed, but I
spoke to one leading Brexit
supporter who told me, I am
delighted with this budget
and I was hoping to get rid
of Philip Hammond
just a few weeks ago.
But the Chancellor faces a delicate
balancing act as he seeks to win
back those younger voters who
believe austerity has had its day.
He needs to spend in a way
that does not spook
the market but he needs
deliver change with
enough of a flourish
that the Tories get
credit - a mini me Labour budget
would probably rebound.
I think this budget
effectively effectively did
not go in for Corbyn light.
That is what I most
feared, that he would
listen to some of the dafter voices
lobbying, trying to press him to
give into as many lobbies as
possible to try to buy a few votes.
Even Corbyn light is not affordable.
First, get the economy on a
sustainable and reasonable path,
then decide how best to spend
the revenues that will produce.
If he was just handing
out money today, I
would have been very worried indeed.
One Labour critic of Jeremy Corbyn
thought the budget failed the
challenge set by her
party at the election.
There is nothing really hopeful
or inspiring about today's
There is nothing that says
we are going to get productivity
going up, this is a country about to
get up and start looking after
Actually what it is is growth
is down and productivity is
down and spending cuts have caused
growth to be down, so it is just
more of the same lack of hope
from a hopeless government.
Philip Hammond has for now
earned a reprieve with a
budget that was relatively well
received on the Tory benches, but
budgets that go down well on day one
can often run into trouble
further down the line.
When Chancellors get
punished for budget mishaps,
it tends not to be the really bad
news that gets them,
the downgrade of growth or whatever.
It is usually the specific measures
that entangle them in knots.
Today, the specific measures
that were the headline
grabbers related to housing.
Getting the young who feel shut out
of the housing market back in,
and back in love with the Tories.
Our business editor
Helen Thomas is here.
Also is Chris Cook who's
been looking at the NHS
and public spending.
Let us start Ities, with you, the
NHS, not cracking open the
You can forgive a bit of
irritation in Whitehall, with NHS
leaders today. They have put in
about 2 billion next year, a further
3.6 billion over the rest of the
Parliament, in capital, the slight
problem is that the NHS made clear
that they thought they wanted 4
billion to make the sums up next
year and 10 billion of capital over
the rest of the Parliament, to
modernise the estate and make sure
the hospitals can keep up with the
ever rising demand for health care,
the thing is the NHS has this odd
structure, we have a chief executive
of the NHS, we have a chair of the
NHS England, and they are
independent, they are allowed do
what they like, they have started
campaigning for more money, so we
have this odd thing, they have been
given 2 billion, 3.6 over the rest
of the Parliament and Sir Malcolm
Grant says the extra money is
welcome, but he say, we can no
longer avoid the difficulty debate
about what is possible to deliver
for patients with the money
available. They will have a board
meeting to discuss what they do and
don't do on November 30th.
What about briefly,
the rest of public spending, because
there is a squeeze coming to a few
departments, even though they have
The critical thing is we
don't know where it will go, because
there is a sort of cliff edge in the
budget beyond which we know nothing
about public spending and huge
amount of pain is concentrated in
the mystery years.
Thank you. Helen.
Eye-catching measures on housing, a
stamp duty removal for first-time
It was the headline grabber
so this zero stamp duty for Bayers
of up to £300,000 you can save for
up to 5 grand on a property of up to
a million pounds, this is sticky in
a few ways, Ed Miliband proposed a
similar policy in 2015 and the
Conservatives called it a gimmick
sand said it had been tried before
and failed. The Office for Budget
Responsibility said today, that when
it has been tried before, the
savings have basically been
incorporated into hiring house
prices and it hasn't helped
affordability. It is worth thinking
about, the average first time buy e
the purchase prize is 210,000, so
they will save about £1700. The
bigger savings is for Bayers of more
expensive property, if you are in a
part of the country with lower house
price, plenty of properties for
under 125,000, it doesn't change
Look, one of the things they
have said, is the real measures have
to get the supply of housing up and
there was a lot in the budget. At
the end of the budget there is a
There was. A big headline
number was 44 billion in support for
the housing market. Now actually
only about 15 billion of that is new
measures announced today. The rest
was already out there. And most of
that when you lock at it was either
loans or loan guarantee, especially
to new builder, so private sector
builders, when you come down to cold
hard cash, spending announced today
was about 6 billion over five year,
so that sounds less impressive. What
I will say is that the housing
experts I have spoken to like some
of the areas that money is going
into. So they like the signs of a
more robust approach, and they like
this definite focus on resuscitating
the smaller end of the house
OK. Thank you.
Well, this government has had
a turbulent time in recent weeks.
Brexit is basically one concession
to the Europeans after another,
and there is a sense of a lack
of vision about that and more.
A government treading time to see
where things will go.
So does this budget show
a government with a direction?
I'm joined by Liz Truss,
who is Philip Hammond's deputy
Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Also with us, Peter Dowd,
her Labour opposite number.
We'll come to you in a minute.
Let me start with Liz. Can we start
on that housing, the Office for
Budget Responsibility say on the
stamp duty measure, the main gainers
from the policy are the people who
already own property not the first
time buyers themselves. Because your
measure will push up the prices, so
the owners benefit not the Bayers.
think lots of people are struggling
to get on the housing ladder, there
are many people in that 20s and 30s
who previously would have been able
to buy a home, now finding it much
more difficult and of course, we
need to increase the supply of homes
and that is what the measures are
about and getting up to 300,000, but
we felt it was necessary to do
something now, to help those who
have struggled for a number of
But you are not helping them if you
simply push the price of houses up?
People will not have to pay the tax
up to 300000 and they will have a
reduction up to 500,000. That is
cash you are not paying to the
But you are paying the
higher price. Do you agree with the
statement by the budget of office
regulation that the main gainers are
the people who own property?
main gainers are people who will be
able to buy their own home.
saying something different. They
said the main gainers were people
who own property.
That is who we are
aiming to help.
You disagree with
suggests that overall the impact on
house prices will be 3%. That is a
minor increase and what we are
It is not a minor
increase for people who are buying!
The people we want to help other
people we want to exempt from tax.
Why did the Tory party say it was a
panicky, underfunded announcement
and failed last time when Labour
suggested this in the 2015 election?
This is funded announcement, our
budget package fully funded.
called it a gimmick and you said it
failed. Why would you pick up
something that Labour suggested two
years ago which you said was a
failure? The Treasury announcement
said when it was tried before it did
not have a significant impact in
improving affordability for
first-time buyers. The Tory party,
the Treasury, the Office for Budget
Responsibility all said it was
We except the big issue is
supply and we need to expand supply,
but there is a need in the short
term to help people out because
people are struggling and we
recognise people are struggling with
getting on the ladder.
Are we not in
an era where you are actually saying
that by refusing to entertain the
notion that not helping people, but
you are just making gestures to show
that you care and you listen and it
does not matter whether it works, it
is more about what it says. We know
it does not work because of all
these people who say...
I am a
believer in low taxation. If we can
exempt people from taxes, lower
taxes for hard-pressed people, we
have done it on the lower allowance
and giving basic tax rate payers
£1000 of they would have paid and it
is the right thing for a
Conservative government to be doing.
Let's move on to spending. We heard
Chris saying the NHS is sitting down
and they need to work out what they
are going to do and not do. What
would be your advice over what the
NHS should stop doing because they
do not have the funds?
there are pressures in the NHS. We
have seen a big increase in the
number of people going to A&E and a
big increase in the number having
operations and there is pressure on
the NHS. That is why whilst keeping
to our fiscal rules we have found
that extra money for the NHS. We
have also said we were looked at
funding for a package for nurses and
other NHS workers as well because we
recognise how hard those people work
and we do want to be able to.
say they cannot do everything on the
budget they are given at the moment,
what would you like them to stop
doing in order to stick to the
A lot of the money we are
putting in its capital to be able to
modernised NHS facilities and that
should enable the NHS to improve its
productivity and be able to do more.
That is the whole purpose of that
You say they can do
We are giving them
capital money to help transform the
service so they can do more.
comes to things like NHS targets on
waiting times and A&E which are
being failed all the time everywhere
at the moment, is there a chance
that we will start meeting those
They will say
we cannot do it on this money, are
I am not saying they are
wrong, absolutely not, but I am
saying the money we are putting in
should help us reach those targets.
That is why we are putting the money
in and we have looked at how that
will help achieve those targets in
conjunction with the money we are
putting in to modernise facilities
and what we are looking at on pay as
well for nurses and other staff.
know you are not the Health
Secretary, but you either public
spending secretary, when do you
think they will be able to get back
into those targets?
This will help
make positive progress towards those
targets over the next few years.
used to be Justice Secretary and the
Justice budget has about 25% in real
time cuts over the last seven years
and it is getting another 15% or
thereabouts. Do you think seriously
you can cut the Justice budget by
that amount when you see what the
state of prisons are at the moment?
We have an extra 100 million into
prisons every year and we are
successfully recruiting more prison
officers, so we have made more real
progress and we are getting more
officers in our prisons and it is
fair to say the situation...
were Justice Secretary, do you think
you could take 15% out of that
budget without shocking conditions
in prisons? That is the policy at
the moment. I am wondering if you
think you can deliver it.
saying we put in an extra 100
million to deal with those staff
So they will not make the
There are ways in different
services like using modern
technology, cutting out some of the
paperwork and processes. If I can
give you an example... Let me give
you an example of the police force.
I went out with the Northern
Constabulary and they now use body
cameras, they did not need to go
back to the police station, they
have got a friend down and they can
do investigations and those things
more efficiently. That is great for
people in public services because
they are spending more time on the
front line and they can deliver that
service more efficiently. We are
carefully looking at every single
public service to make sure they
have the resources they need which
is why we are putting the extra
money into the NHS because we
recognise there are very real.
quickly on growth and productivity,
do you think we should get used to
these figures are 1.5%? Is that now
the new normal? Would you work on
I do not think we
should accept that at all. I think
we have huge potential in this
country, I think we can do better
and I think we can match our
international competitors when it
comes to areas like maths and
computer science. It will take time.
Of course when we are changing
things like the school curriculum or
the number of students doing
computer science it takes a while
for those people to come through the
system. We have got tremendous
things going on in Britain. We have
got a record number of start-up
companies, $22 billion tech
companies, and I do that we have a
bright future. It will not be
instant magic but we should not
accept mediocrity, we have got to
Wait there until I talk
to Peter Dowd. It all comes back to
growth, doesn't it? In the Labour
manifesto you were spending £48
billion extra but none of it was
directed towards productivity. It
only got two mentions in the
That is not correct. Half
of that money was in relation to
education from early years through
to primary schools, secondary
schools, further education,
universities and lifelong learning.
That is an investment and that would
feed into productivity.
on education was mostly about giving
money to students, restoring the
education maintenance allowance,
abolishing fees. That will not raise
productivity unless you get more
students better taught.
half that budget and a significant
portion was in relation to further
education which is where we should
be putting the money.
There was some
funding of 16-19 -year-old, but we
are talking less than 2 billion.
on top of that we had our
infrastructure spending of 250
billion, so there were significant
amounts in relation to raising
productivity and putting investment
in the system. That was there for
everyone to see. 48.6 billion.
Productivity relies on
infrastructure. Can I ask you about
new technology? Philip Hammond today
made a lot about driverless cars and
the industrial revolution and I was
wondering if there was a
philosophical difference. He wants
Britain to be good at driverless
cars and he wants them to take off
in this country. That could destroy
hundreds of thousands of jobs of
drivers. Do you welcome that or not?
Of course I welcome new technology.
The whole of the Industrial
Revolution is about new technology.
We are talking about the fourth
industrial revolution. You cannot
stop the advance of technology. What
that does not mean its people are
less well off and there are less
What is the policy on
driverless cars? You agree with him
promoting them. What do you do to
all the drivers at the moment?
are suggestions that in the future
there are jobs which we do not know
will exist now. We do not know what
those jobs are. The idea that all
these people lose jobs and they will
not be replaced with other jobs, you
only have to look at Singapore and
the growth levels and the employment
levels, so they are not mutually
You have been very open
that you want higher taxes.
Criticism of the Labour position on
taxes is why you say you want higher
taxes you pretend to know one will
feel it. They will only be paid by
companies or a small number of very
wealthy people. The Institute for
Fiscal Studies has said you cannot
raise 50 billion through companies
because they were either pay their
workers less or charge their
customers more or pay out less to
pensioners who are shareholders and
rely on the income. Is it time to
admit that those costings will hit
ordinary people as well as just
I do not think it is time
to admit that because I do not
believe that. We set out absolutely
transparently hour 46.8 billion and
where we would raise that money
from. We believe it would affect
only 5% in terms of income tax
payers and the rest of the formula
will come from corporations. Let's
take an example. In relation to
corporation tax it was a 26% and the
government proposed to bring it down
to 17% and we would take it to 26%
and it was still be the lowest in
Somebody has to Bear this,
either the shareholders, the workers
or the customers. That is the point.
There is no such thing as a company
independent of people who actually
That is the point, you raise
productivity, you put investment in
the economy, people get higher
wages, there is more profit and that
is where the growth comes from in
relation to the tax we get.
all back to growth and both of you
would like that very much.
would like that very much.
Now, it is a grand tradition
on budget days to ask
what the public reaction is.
We've had a government in a mess
for the last few weeks and public
So has the Chancellor done anything
to get the show back on the road?
Emily has been in Bury today
with a focus group selected for us
by a market research company.
The panel was drawn from the local
area and designed to be
politically mixed -
some voted Conservative last time,
some for Labour and some
didn't vote at all.
These groups can never
offer a scientific study
of public sentiment,
but they did offer a rich guide
as to how things are playing.
Lynette, I'm going to come to you,
you picked up a few bits and bobs.
What were the things
that jumped out at you?
was more money for the NHS,
I think that's something we really
need at the moment.
Also, the increase
in the minimum wage.
It's only a small increase,
but it's helping people
in this economic climate.
And also, I think, raising the tax
thresholds, I think the basic tax
threshold has gone up a little bit
and also the 40%, it's kind of gone
up ever so slightly.
So I think that's helped.
You work part-time so
that is helpful for you?
Yes, I think especially
with the basic tax, I think
that definitely helps,
along with the minimum wage.
It just helps push
things up a little bit.
Was anyone disappointed
by what they heard today?
Was there something you were holding
out for that you didn't hear?
I overall was impressed
by the budget speech,
but I did want to hear something
about gambling, and trying to solve
this problem of addictive gambling,
I thought it was a bad opportunity
missed by the Chancellor today.
Can I ask the younger ones
whether they responded
to the first-time buyers
announcement at all?
Is that going to make a difference
do your life if you don't have
to pay stamp duty up to £300,000
on a house you're buying?
Yes, I think it will
help quite a lot.
Obviously as a first time buyer
300,000 is obviously quite a lot
of money but I'm looking to buy
a house into the next year and it
will help quite a lot.
I found it a lot easier
because it is hard now these days
to save up enough deposit to put
towards your first time house,
but the problem is, they're saying
they are going to build more houses
for us, but are they affordable
for people like us?
Are they just for the more people
that earn more money?
It's whether they get built as well.
Because they have promised to build
more houses before in previous
budgets and never built them.
I think it was 200,000 a a few years
ago and they never built them.
So who doesn't believe
the house building promise?
I don't believe it.
It is unrealistic for what they say.
I think they should try to free up
local authorities to build,
I think that would make a big
impression because they would build
social housing and I don't see any
route to social housing being built,
that has been mentioned
in the budget today.
Social housing that wouldn't be
privately purchased then?
But they need to reduce the amount
of bureaucracy as well.
The old council house,
they were all built by the local
authorities, and that's just not
happened for many years now,
and there's an opportunity
today to do that.
Let me ask how many of you are still
living with parents, or parents how
many of you still have children
living with you, just
put your hand up if that...
I have two daughters
and a son, they're all at...
One's just finished her degree,
one is now a teacher,
and the other one is living at home,
he's at college.
Do you think this will help any
of your kids by buy their own homes?
I hope so, I really do hope so,
for them to be able to be able
to buy their own home would be
something that we
would be looking for.
Adam you said you are
trying to buy next year.
I think it is not necessarily
they have reduced it,
but I think it's the deposit that's
the big thing, that's
the difficult thing in getting
on the property ladder now.
Saskia, you're still living at home.
I'm still living at home,
and like I often think that compared
to some people, I think I'm
fortunate, because I never went
to university and stuff,
and I just think, you know
if some of my friend
who are at uni, they finish uni
and they have so much money
they owe, they are going to be stuck
at home for such a long time
because you know deposits to put
down on a house are just enormous.
And you would be looking
to buy your own now, would you?
Would anything in the budget
change your plans for the next year,
do you think or not yet?
I don't know all about it,
but it's optimistic you know,
to hear they are doing something
about it, they are aware
that this, it is a massive
struggle for some people.
Let me pick up on that now.
Who could tell me the hardest thing
in their life at the moment,
that the budget did
or didn't address.
My mum is an Alzheimer's sufferer,
she is currently in care,
she is living in a place,
a housing trust, but she's trying
to be rehomed at the moment
and the system is just collapsing,
it's falling apart.
Although there was mention
of money for the NHS,
there wasn't any specific mention
of money for social care
and particularly elderly social
care, and just being in that loop,
I know that that system
is ready to collapse.
More money for like specifically
allocated for mental health.
I think it is a really big issue
at moment and just mental
Health Services are really
like stretched at the moment,
waiting lists and I think they need
to really specify which areas
they are going to be spent in.
Who else would agree with that?
I agree with that but also
the conditions and disabilities
such as autism are not
catered for enough.
I work in autism, and I know
the measures aren't there
to assist particularly
the more challenging people.
So you would like to see more money
in the NHS for social
care for disability,
for mental health as well.
Let me ask you this question,
would you be prepared
to see your own taxes go up,
to fund better provision
of these services?
Just raise your hand
so we get a sense.
That is amazing, all
of you are saying you would be
prepared to pay more taxes?
As long as we can be confident
it is being spent properly
and it is not being misspent
in different areas.
It is like the alcohol duty
being frozen is a mistake,
that is a revenue stream we can get.
It is a luxury, you know,
people can afford it or they can't.
And I think to freeze it,
to go for the bottom end
and to freeze the alcohol duty
for me, smells of a vote winner
because a lot of the people...
It mentioned whiskey
so specifically that sort of thing,
but also I think, it maybe send out
the wrong message where
you are trying to get people
to drink responsibly.
We have a problem.
You know, we are not
really addressing it.
You say this because you mentioned
to me you're a drinker and a driver
a drinker and a driver -
not at the same time but you do both
yet you disagree the freeze on duty.
Yes, I mean obviously the fuel
is slightly different
because of the industry
and everything, and I understand
that, but I do definitely think that
tax and duty on alcohol should
have been increased.
So I find that extraordinary.
Did the Chancellor then miss
a trick, if you have
all said you don't mind
paying more taxation,
you have all said that, as long
as it's going in the right place,
so he could have raised money to pay
for the things you all want today?
He's a politician, he has
to be very careful.
He can't do what he may be wants
to do, raising taxes would perhaps
lose him an election
or something like that.
I think most people
expect alcohol to go up.
I think it's almost a given.
To not put it up, is almost
like a sort of "Oh",
but nobody really goes "Oh,
that's brilliant, I don't
pay two pence more",
but if you raise £10 billion
to spend on the NHS,
then we would have all
gone,"OK, fair enough".
People are much more socially aware
as well, aren't they,
so people have a better
understanding of how that money
could be better spent on, you know,
public servants, our public sector,
right across the board.
Let me just ask you a
really unfair question.
At the end of today,
who would feel inclined to vote
for Conservative at the next
election if it were called next week
on the basis of what you have
heard in the budget?
Well I would.
Just put your hand up.
OK, who would say they have been put
off by what they've heard today?
And we have four undecided.
Thank you all very much.
Thank you for coming in.
Let us finish today with some budget
reflections with a panel of big
brains and years of experience.
Rupert Harrison was chief of Staff
to George Osborne at the Treasury.
He now works for Blackrock.
Fraser Nelson is editor
of the Spectator, and Faiza Shaheen
is the Director at the Centre
for Labour and Social studies.
We'll get to them in a moment
but first, Nick Watt is here.
Nick, what are you hearing tonight?
How has this gone down
on the Tory benches?
I was talking to one member of
cabinet, someone who is a fan
I was talking to one member of
cabinet, someone who is a fan of
Philip Hammond he said at last we
have a political Philip Hammond,
there was the disaster of his budget
earlier this year when his pool
political antenna got into trouble
and this member of cabinet said he
could see the job he was needing to
do, which was answer that roar to
persuaded to people who voted Labour
and the Brexiteers reasonably happy.
Let us look at the headlines
tomorrow. Financial Times grim
outlook overshadows housing drive.
The Guardian he struggles to meet
the gloom. Two with a gloomy air
about them. The times goes Hammond
eases off austerity. And the Mail is
the most interesting. The Mail
dubbed him #e6789 eyore.
that is significant. The is very
rescind, we are taking it away and
you say as you point out they are
saying we like what he does, but
crucially, they like his Brexit
optimism, so as long as he appears
to be saying the right things, they
will be happy.
Thank you. Panel,
first of all is this the end of
austerity? Some are writing this up
as the end of austerity.
pretty much. Have accuse loot a
forecast, he has given up he will
balance the book, it is stretching
off into the future, we have had
lots of spending without any
indication about where the money
will come from. They have thought,
Jeremy Corbyn isn't going to tease
up for running up a massive debt so
we are in a political hole so let us
dig out with lots of borrowed money.
Have they given up on austerity?
think there has to be a recognition
it hasn't worked when you have a
missed so many of your target, and
when economic growth is downgraded
again, you have got to start
thinking this isn't the right
approach, saying that, the real end
of austerity would be to is that
right undoing the cuts.
We have more
Exactly. They haven't, they
are still doing the same narrative
about austerity is the right thing
rather than this opportunity to
Do you think this is the
key, that Jeremy Corbyn's relative
success against expectation in the
general election has spooked them
and they have said we need to throw
bait of money at stuff, is that your
Yes, but they are just
gesture, they created it themselves.
Homelessness has doubled since they
have been leading Government, and
sow they throw money at it. They are
undoing the damage they have done. I
am not going to clap about it.
were there running it when austerity
was the name of the game. Do you
feel like this is a significant
change in direction?
It spent quite
a lot of money, so he is spending
tens the of billions more, normally
that would be seen as a pretty
expensive budget for the public
finance, the big picture it is not
the end of austerity, government
budgets are tight for some years to
come. It there are difficult
decisions like a benefit freeze that
is stretching years ahead. I think
they have paused their level of
ambition, I think that is partly for
the politics, and partly on the
economics that right now with Brexit
uncertainty isn't the time to be
Do you feel like it's
a vision of what it is doing or
where it wants to go? He said this
is not a budget about Brexit, it is
about more than Brexit. Did you get
the sense they have a kind of a
I thought he did a better
job of telling the stories focussing
on house building and the
progressive nature of the reforms,
the top of the 1%, the richest 1%
paying 27% of income tax, these are
real achievements from conSepp
Blatter accepts sieve remortgages
and the forries have been bad about
boasting about it, but now they are.
So for once, he is beginning to
point out that this is not just
about cutting, this is about
building a fairer and stronger
It is difficult to claim we
are fairer when we have so many
people going to food bank ex when
those on the rich list have seen
their wealth double.
been coming down. The States say we
are more equal.
Which measure are
That is bad at the
extremes, you can ask the IFS that:
The overall measure of inequality
has come down since 2010 and the
people whose incomes have fallen the
most are those at the top.
I am more
interested, we have been saying the
narrative has been this is a
leaderless Government, it doesn't
know what it is doing, where it is
going. It is passing time. Has this
game change that?
For the economy,
and for what our country is going to
look like. Nothing else matters
We don't know what anything,
this is a sort of Fantasy League.
statement for the Government to try
to say something and the biggest
thing it hasn't been a disaster,
which is more than you can say about
the party conference, the election,
about the last Budget. You need to
get through this and it not to
implode. So far the night is young
What a low bar, what a
low bar we have set. Meanwhile,
meanwhile we have more nurses, 30%
more nurses leaving than join, we
have 88% of education of schools
facing real term cuts. I mean,
listen, when you look at the stat,
whether it is child poverty and
relative child poverty is going up.
When you look at homelessness, this
is not a sign of a healthy economy.
How far do you think is the, if not
the Jeremy Corbyn kind of nod to
him, at least a nod to Ed Miliband.
There is a lot of that about this
Government at the moment.
I think it
is a nod to Jeremy Corbyn more than
Ed Miliband. He lost an election and
Jeremy Corbyn also lost but he
gained a lot of seat, I think some
of the spending money on the Health
Service any Conservative Government
would do, what Chris Cook was saying
about the line between NHS England
and the Government is something to
watch. Your point about vision, I
thought that Philip Hammond managed
20 do today, which was just the
beginning, was try and give us a
picture of in the long-term there
are some things that might be more
important than Brexit, I think think
it is important but the new
driverless car, longer life span,
they will be more important than
Brexit. He did at least have a long
section of the speech trying to talk
about science and technology in an
interesting way. That was a small
It is interesting from
the same sort of end of the
political spectrum, Rupert is
thinking Jeremy Corbyn has made a
lot of running here.
terrifies the Conservatives, sixth
months ago they were laughing at
him. It has been a big change.
this work then? Ken Clark said it is
not Corbyn Lyth but do you think
what he has done shoots the Corbyn
fox, rail cards for 26-30-year-olds.
They are bribes and ghijs and will
be seen as such. We are at the
beginning of recovery. It is
beginning to show a government which
knows where it is going and made a
few reasonable steps today in
This was a nothing
budget. There was nothing really in
it. It was gimmicks and gestures and
Hammond said this is about the
future and being fit for the future,
and then he had nothing, no
substance to really start backing
A lot of this is designed
to get young people up. The figures
What a stamp duty
holiday when young people are coming
out of university with £50,000 of
Do you think it will work?
likely have four years or more until
the next election, this is about
steadying the ship, about getting a
government that won't collapse
month-to-month, that can deliver
Brexit, and you know, by the time we
have the next election we will have
a new leader of the Conservative
Party and the world will look
Thank you all very much.
Well, tomorrow we will probably
discover if there was anything we
hadn't talked about today, but that
is all we have time for for now. I
will be here tomorrow. Good night.