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Budget 2021 – If you Clapped – Shout!!

Published 10/03/2021

It’s been a week since the Budget, writes our Managing Director, Will Harris.

On the day the relief seemed to be palpable.  No immediate swinging taxes rises, no obvious cuts and the furlough scheme extended until September.  All good, then?  The devil may be in the detail but, it was also in the timing in terms of what we have learned about UK Government priorities and who will be bearing the brunt.

In terms of where money is being spent, to me, there are 2 oddities.

I simply don’t understand why the housing market which grew by 8% last year needs more support.  Who benefits this year if houses go up in value again?  I understand the feel-good factor but for every 60 year old who might add £30,000 to the value of their house there is a son or daughter who will despair just that bit more. The 80s dream of house ownership for all is now once again a dream for all but the wealthy – those who can save 50k from income or who have parents willing and able to stump up that kind of money. That was never the plan.

With Bank of England Base Rates at 0.1%, why does the housing market need support? Can it not survive on its own with such incredibly cheap money? If not, we should all be worried.

The second oddity is nurses pay. Not just because, like 70% of the population, I think (I bloody well know!) they deserve more but because its such very poor politics.  It will cost £2.5 billion to give nurses a 5% rise. That’s a lot of money. But we have just borrowed £280bn in the last 12 months so it IS a drop in the ocean. And we have £18 billion for the NHS as a result of leaving the EU. Why would we not use that now? It was promised to them, after all.

Or am I just naïve?  Is electoral feel good factor among older voter all that matters? Is it the fact that the nursing profession attracts mild mannered, dutiful and understated types that so leaves them open to exploitation by cynical politicians?

You will find it hard to find anyone talk the housing market down, especially in financial services. That doesn’t bother me! It bothers me that the young retired folk of Sussex now living in California have spent more time on front pages in the last few days than the families of dead nurses.

It’s not Mr Sunak and his Budget we need to be worried about, it’s the wider inertia of a hypnotised electorate that needs to emerge from hibernation this Spring. If you clapped, shout!