Ahead of the Budget there is much talk about responsibility, prudence and 'no giveaways'. It is claimed that all this is needed in an effort to reassure financial markets. But this is completely wrong.
It reveals an outlook that believes our money, taxpayers' money, is something that we should all stand in line for – only well behind the bankers who got us all into this mess in the first place. Instead of a Budget for Bankers, we need a People's Budget.
A People’s Budget would begin with an investment programme aimed at getting people back to work. Over 650,000 jobs have been lost in Britain in the last 2 years. In the West Midlands, the downturn started earlier and 104,000 jobs have been lost over 3 years. We need to get people working again, and we should start by focussing on three areas: transport infrastructure, housing and education.
The recession has been led by a decline in investment. This accounts for well over half the entire decline in the economy. Among the areas most badly hit are construction and transport infrastructure. These are already areas where Britain lags way behind other countries.
A major government investment programme could build affordable, low-energy homes. Significantly improved rail links would lift economic performance and reduce carbon emissions. They would also get people off the dole, spending and paying taxes again, all of which would reduce the government's deficit.
Investing in our young people, through improved education at all levels, actually lifts economic performance and highlights the madness of the government’s recently announced cuts to funding for colleges and universities. Instead of wasting money by boosting the unemployment total, government investment in education boosts jobs, exports and attracts investment.
These are just some of the measures that could be taken by a government acting in the interests of the ordinary people of Britain, not of its bankers.