All in it together? Not me!

Our beloved government tells us we’re all in it together, and must take a share of the pain.

I’m struggling to see much pain coming my way from today’s spending review.  I was a little concerned about rural bus services (most of which are subsidised, and in a car-dominated world would struggle without a subsidy), but it seems they’re only suffering a small cut[1].  On the positive side, quite a lot of worthwhile investment is not being cut.  Probably the worst cop-out is the amount of pork-barrel spending that lives on, such as sacred-cow bribes to today’s pensioners (even as younger folks see our future entitlements reduced) – but we knew that already.

How do I escape?  Well, partly it’s the usual story: they’ve managed expectations so the actual announcement is ‘not so bad’.  But more to the point, it’s where I’m coming from: as a single working person, the system ordinarily expects me to pay for everything but get nothing back.  I haven’t lost anything in the spending review, because I had nothing to lose[2]!

Actually there is one more substantial loss.  The changes to the pension rules are going to make it harder to afford a house before I retire.  But that’s more than offset by the apparently-substantial reductions in money going in to the housing market to keep it unaffordable.  Under successive government’s housing policies I’ve spent many years paying three times over[3] into the pockets of far richer people, but finally there seems to be a real prospect of that correcting.  If house prices fall sufficiently then restrictions on what I can save cease to matter!  🙂

Having said all that, I’m concerned the spending review looks hopelessly inadequate to tackle the dire state of public finances.  I’m more impressed by bold moves like the Scottish parliament’s getting rid of 25% of NHS management posts, if (as seems unlikely) we can take that at face value.

[1] As witness the extremely unusual fact that the bus companies en masse were the stock market’s best performers today on hearing the news.

[2] The budget is of course a different story.

[3] First through taxes, some of which are channeled into housing, both in ‘affordable’ and ‘social’ housing, and in housing benefit.  Second through rent, which is inflated by having to compete with housing benefit recipients who have no incentive to seek a good deal.  And third, if I get rich enough to buy, by prices inflated by all that public money, including not least the inflated yields (rents) for property pimps.

Posted on October 20, 2010, in economy, politics, uk. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Unfortunately, governments everywhere feel the need to suck up to property owners, and that invariably translates to perverse economic incentives and miscellaneous stupidity that inflates house prices. If that’s being reversed now, make the most of it, because it’ll only be temporary.

    As for the Scottish NHS cuts – I see that their saving amounts to about 1% of the Scottish health budget. Not that “bold” a move. And what’s the betting the cuts will fall in areas like “reporting” – making it harder, in future, to tell what the money is being spent on ?

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