This is in contrast to when an advisor in Tony Blair’s government infamously said about 9/11 that it was “a good day to bury bad news.”Of course, I am in no way comparing the tragedy in New York to our economic situation. However, the sentiment of the statement seems to ring true – an opportunity to help build the country’s confidence has been wasted. As I’ve written in this column before, the intangible, but indispensable confidence factor plays a huge part in determining the future path of our economy. As a plumber who works with facts and figures to make sure a pipe flows or a toilet flushes, it’s sometimes difficult to get your head around the thought that our economy, which is run by number-crunching boffins, is influenced so heavily by the confidence of owner-managers who are debating whether to invest or take on new people. I’m not naïve, I know the media would have had a field day if we’d slipped into the mystical realms of a triple dip. From the media’s perspective, that’s a far better story, which would have created miles of pages of copy and sound bites from commentators attacking the chancellor and bemoaning the government’s strategy. However, the news that the economy had grown, even by such a small amount, provided the opportunity to say publically, okay, things aren’t great, but we’ve grown a bit and now we should kick on to make sure we move further away from recession. From talking to my “plumber’s network”, I was pretty sure that we were going to avoid the triple-dip as they had been predicting that the economy is, if not exactly flush, at least fighting its way back up. And that is the message that needs to be put out there. And quickly. The body swerve we have taken to avoid recession means our tomorrow can start today. I have every confidence that things can turn out well for the whole economy. Despite criticism from the IMF and other serious economic agencies, the government has held its line and continues to do so. I know the last batch of employment figures weren’t great, but until then they had been going in the right direction. I know I’ve been hard on the Funding for Lending Scheme to finance small businesses via the banks, but maybe last week’s re-energised version of the scheme will finally get them lending, and the Help to Buy equity loans and the existing New-Buy schemes have the potential to get the construction industry moving again. See, I’m being confident and positive. And so should everyone else, it might just make the difference the economy really needs. Charlie Mullins is founder and CEO of Pimlico Plumbers.
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