SR2015: Spending: Is 36% of GDP still his target? [Update: the answer is yes]

[Rather than single blog I am posting a series of shorter posts on the Spending Review today on specific issues]

“Mr Speaker, I want to announce to the House that we are on target to meet our long-term economic plan of reducing the size of the British state to just 36%, putting firmly at the lower end of public spending in advanced economies. This will replace the long-term trend of public spending in the UK to be at around 43% of GDP, even under Conservative governments. By 2020 we will have fundamentally reduced the size of British Government.”

The above is what you will NOT hear from Chancellor George Osborne. Nor will you find anything like in the Conservative Party manifesto before the last election.

It is a perfectly legitimate political aim but not one the Tories have come clean about, but have concealed behind rhetoric about ‘balanced budgets’ and ‘deficit’ and ‘debt’ which is largely school-kid level economics.

So you will probably have to dig deep into the figures to see if this 36% target is still in George Osborne’s ‘Spending Review’. Indeed it is likely that you won’t find it in his figures, but in the report of the Office of Budget Responsibility.

It was there in his March Budget this year, before the General Election. It was there is his summer Budget after the General Election, as I have pointed out here and elsewhere.

Whether one agrees with this aim or not (which I do not) what is obviously wrong about this is that it has never been spelt out explicitly or put to a vote of the British people. Not exactly democratic is it?

UPDATE; the answer is yes. See this Table from the OBR – despite all the changes his target remains 36%.


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