No matter how hard he tries, every positive announcement, tax break or incentive will be painted as electioneering rather than as measures designed to boost investment, create more jobs and move the country another light-year away from the economic black hole created by Labour.
But that is exactly what he has done, and would look to continue to do if the Conservatives are returned to office in May – so he should take some pride in his achievements. In the past I have compared George Osborne to a captain sailing a ship through stormy seas and a poker player who has to play the right hand. In both analogies an individual has to have a steady hand and stick to their strategy. There is no doubt that Osborne has done this. The plan he set in place when he became chancellor after the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition inherited an almighty mess from Gordon Brown & Co is working. To add an analogy that’s a little closer to home – Osborne has been an economic tradesman using all the skills at his disposal to repair the ramshackle house Labour left to wrack and ruin. Having stuck to his spending plans, the deficit is half of what it was when Labour was shown the door in 2010, and government borrowing, when put in line with national income, is at a peacetime low.
Through his economic measures the coalition has overseen an explosion in employment, with the jobless rate having dropped to 5.7 per cent in December and encouraged a spirit of enterprise among the nation’s army of small and medium-sized businesses. Not only have UK employers delivered growth in their businesses, they have been able to reward the efforts of their workers with wage rises – who’d have thought that’d be the case when we were in the depths of recession just a few short years ago? Average earnings rose by 2.1 per cent in the last quarter of 2014 compared to a year before with total pay, according to the ONS, 2.4 per cent higher in December than twelve months earlier. As Ian Dury famously once sang, these are “Reasons to be Cheerful” and ones which we should all take pride in because, of course, this is not a one way street. From the one-man-band startups to the established firms that make up the 5.2m SMEs, businesses have played an invaluable role in pulling the economy up by its boot straps and helping getting it back on an even keel. The chancellor helped create a more attractive landscape for the economy to grow and businesses planted the seeds, cultivated the crops and fed the economy in the form of more tax for the Treasury and levels of employment that reduced the benefits burden on the state. I am sure that the chancellor, in his last budget before the election, will acknowledge the efforts of the business community over the last five years. Whether it’s in the form of compliments and praise or actual fiscal measures to further improve the economic environment for businesses, we’ll have to wait until then to see. Whatever happens I am convinced George’s economic plan has been able to succeed thanks, in part, to the efforts of businesses up and down the country. Image: Shutterstock
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