Apparently the UK economy is doing better than expected, the government's earning more in tax, and it's borrowing less
Today, Philip Hammond AKA Spreadsheet Phil AKA The Man Holding the UK's Purse Strings AKA the Chancellor of the Exchequer, stood up to give MPs an update on the state of the UK economy.
He painted a positive picture: three million more jobs, and a strong manufacturing sector. And it was all a bit snappier than it used to be. The chancellor's stuck to his word of keeping the Spring Statement to a short update on the UK economy, and is saving all his big rabbit-out-a-hat policy changes 'til Autumn. That means we got a fifteen minute speech, rather than hours and hours of numbers.
Here's what he said
Phil's pretty happy. In 2018-2019 government spending will be "in surplus", which means that it's getting more in tax than it's spending, and the amount it needs to
will also fall.
– the rate at which prices are rising – is also starting to fall, he said. High prices mean your salary doesn't go as far, so even if your wage is rising, you'll feel as though there's less money in your pocket. It's what's called your real wage, and the chancellor says that'll start to rise by the first quarter of next year.
The Labour Party, and some politicians from Phil's own Conservative Party, are saying that this means the government should start spending more money, giving more to local councils and ending what's called 'Austerity'. Phil spoke a lot about taking a "balanced approach": code for we're still not going to
On top of all that, the government is asking for feedback on a plan to introduce a tax on single-use plastics. This tax isn't necessarily to make money, but rather to encourage, or 'incentivise', people to change their behaviour and stop throwing away so much plastic.
The government's going to work with the Office of National Statistics (the ONS) to find out how it can better measure the "value of people". It's easy to measure the impact of investment in things like railways and businesses, he says, but less easy to work out what you get back when you invest money in humans.
The top-line is that it's good news, then: the numbers show the economy's growing. But the government's critics, including the Labour Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, warn against just living by the numbers.
Ahead of the speech McDonnell warned the chancellor not to fill it with "boastful self-praise", and should instead instead acknowledge the challenges faced by the economy. "Our public services are at breaking point and many of our local councils are near bankruptcy," he said.
…so how are all our groups and communities in society linked to together? On some level or another, we’re all governed by the same state, whether we like it or not – via paying taxes, using public services, or complying with regulation in our businesses and purchases… so how do we come to a consensus on what role the government should play in the economy?